This ‘Silent’ Disease Affects Millions & Yet We’ve Never Even Heard Of It

Several health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure have come into the spotlight in recent years. Unfortunately, this means that other equally serious illnesses often do not get the attention they deserve. Liver disease is one such problem and since most of us associate this disease with alcoholics, we don’t realize that we might be at risk. Liver disease is becoming increasingly common, but there is one condition in particular that scientists and medical experts are warning us about.

Are You At Risk From This ‘Silent’ Disease? 

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in which fat deposits in the liver build up and impair liver function. NASH is known as a ‘silent’ disease as it does not have any symptoms in the early stages and it can take years for it to become severe enough to cause any symptoms.

 Is NASH Really That Common In India?

“NASH affects 3-5% of the general population & is the most extreme form of NAFLD which affects 9-32% of the Indian population”

NASH affects 3-5% of the general population and is the most extreme form of NAFLD which affects 9-32% of the Indian population. Rural Indian studies show that the prevalence of NAFLD is over 28%, but scientists say that the prevalence of this disease is likely to be even high in urban India.

What Are The Risk Factors Of NASH?

“Obesity, especially central obesity & diabetes are major risk factors of NASH”

Obesity and diabetes are two of the main risk factors for developing NAFLD and subsequently NASH. Studies on patients with NAFLD showed that 21% were overweight while 68% were obese and so obesity is a major risk factor of NASH. People with central obesity also run a high risk of suffering from this type of liver disease.

Diabetes is also a major risk factor for NASH as 70% of diabetes patients have a fatty liver, including more severe forms of the disease including NASH and fibrosis. It is reported that the prevalence of NAFLD in Indian diabetics is in the range of 12-88%. People with hypertension and high cholesterol are also at a higher risk of NASH.

How To Reduce Your Risk Of NASH

Luckily for us, there is a silver lining! Ignoring NASH can make liver transplant surgery necessary, BUT with timely diagnosis and lifestyle changes, the disease can be resolved. Researchers recently found that weight loss resulted in resolution for 25% of NASH patients and 19% experienced regression of fibrosis. These results are pretty impressive considering that less than 50% of patients were able to lose the target amount of 7% to 10% of their body weight.

NASH can also be prevented through permanent dietary and lifestyle changes. Stay away from fad diets as they cause unhealthy weight loss and can place even more of a strain on your liver. Instead adopt a healthy diet and exercise plan to lose weight. Men are more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome and will find it tougher to lose abdominal fat, but if you stick to your plan religiously, you’re sure to get rid those love handles!

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July 27, 2018

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