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Jaundice: A complication of NASH

Jaundice: A Complication of NASH

Jaundice is a yellowing of the eye sclera (the white part) and skin because there’s too much bilirubin in the blood. There are many causes of jaundice. However, for people living with liver disease, jaundice is a common nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) complication. Bilirubin, the Liver, and Jaundice Bilirubin is formed while recycling old or damaged red blood cells. The bilirubin travels through the bloodstream to the liver. Then, it binds with bile and moves through the bile ducts into the digestive tract for removal from the body. Jaundice can develop when bilirubin levels build up in the blood and deposit in the skin. Any disease or other factor that prevents bilirubin from being eliminated from the body can lead to jaundice. The most common causes are: Liver infections, like hepatitis Excessive alcohol consumption Gallstone disease Some medicines and herbal supplements Cirrhosis Cancer of the gallbladder or pancreas In addition, high bilirubin levels can cause an accumulation of substances the body forms when it breaks bile down. This can lead to itching all over the body. Hepatitis and Jaundice The word hepatitis means liver inflammation and is a crucial part of the damage to the liver NASH causes. NASH is a more severe form of fatty liver disease where there is an excessive accumulation of fat in the liver. While a simple fatty liver isn’t necessarily harmful, it can progress to NASH which is marked by chronic inflammation. In some individuals, the accumulation of fat in the liver triggers the body’s healing response. The immune response includes: Inflammation (increases oxygen-rich blood and other nutrients to damaged areas) Liver cell repair Application of collagen to protect healing areas Normally, this is a self-limiting reaction, which means that once repairs and healing are complete, the body sends a signal to the immune system to switch off the healing response. With NASH and other liver diseases, most people are unaware they have a condition because there are no noticeable symptoms at first. If you don’t know something is wrong, you also don’t seek treatment or make healthier lifestyle changes to reduce the amount of fat in the liver. This means that the liver continues accumulating fat and, therefore, continues the healing response. Eventually, chronic liver inflammation begins to scar and damage the liver replacing healthy liver cells with stiff, fibrous, non-functioning scar tissue. Over time, the liver can progress into cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Without enough healthy cells, the liver cannot perform its vital functions, including moving the bilirubin through the bile ducts. Reducing the Prevalence of NASH The prevalence of NASH is growing at an alarming rate in America. There are no FDA-approved treatments available currently for NASH, but potential new options are being evaluated in clinical trials. Arizona Liver Health offers a FREE fibroscan to adults at risk of liver disease to check the health of their liver. To schedule your FREE fibroscan appointment or explore our enrolling NASH studies, contact us today at (480) 470-4000! Sources:

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NASH a modern lifestyle disease

NASH: A Modern Lifestyle Disease

Every liver has a small amount of fat in it. With fatty liver, unhealthy fat levels begin to accumulate, leading to liver damage if not treated. There are various types of fatty liver disease, but NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and alcoholic fatty liver disease are the two main types. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the middle stage in the progression to irreversible liver damage. NASH is primarily influenced by our diet, activity, and unhealthy choices. It is a modern lifestyle disease and a silent killer. NASH Spelled Out When your liver accumulates too much fat, a series of events is triggered that begin the liver’s progressive damage. It starts with a simple fatty liver, then as the fat continues to accumulate, your immune system is activated, signaling it needs to fight what is causing the buildup. If the fat isn’t reduced, the immune response never turns off and begins to scar the liver. Scars tissue grows and will start to replace healthy liver tissue, in a process known as fibrosis. NASH is the stage where fibrosis starts becoming more widespread. If diagnosed and treated here, there is a chance the liver can repair itself over time. It is often called the tipping point because, eventually, irreversible damage begins in the cirrhosis stage if not treated. Liver complications, liver cancer, and finally, liver failure follow. They call it the silent killer because it often goes unnoticed until the later stages, and there is no hope of restoring the liver. Early Stages: Fatigue Pain or discomfort in the upper right abdomen Later Stages: Abdominal swelling (ascites) Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin’s surface Red palms Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) Influenced by Lifestyle Chronic, excessive calorie intake and sedentary lifestyle are some of the heaviest influences in developing fatty liver disease. The liver is a resilient organ, and if diagnosed at the beginning of progression, can heal itself in due time. Early intervention focuses on spreading awareness of the risk factors: Hypertension Heart disease High blood lipid levels Insulin resistance Type 2 diabetes Obesity Clinical Research Studies’ Impact on NASH Though it’s possible to reverse liver damage in most of the stages of fatty liver disease, chances decrease as time goes by. If you are at risk of fatty liver disease and NASH, making healthier lifestyle changes not only reduces your risk of developing NAFLD but also halting it in its’ tracks. Staying active regularly, controlling your weight, eating a healthy diet, and limiting alcohol are recommended. If you smoke, stop. If you use drugs, stop. You can’t live without a liver. Arizona Liver Health is conducting FREE fibroscans, which are a quick, painless way to detect NAFLD and NASH. Our team will discuss the results and options and opportunities going forward. If your results indicate abnormal levels, we will talk to you about our research studies looking into new ways to treat NASH. There are no current treatment options specific to NASH, so this is a great opportunity to improve patients’ care and be a part of history. Are you concerned about your NASH risk? There’s no time to waste; get your FREE fibroscan today here at Arizona Liver Health. Visit our website to learn more! References:  

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