Non-Alcholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

What is the illness?

Description

Liver disease characterised by an accumulation of fat in the liver accompanied by inflammation and hepatic lesions which compromise the organ’s functions.
It is a chronic disease, with the risk of degenerating into cirrhosis of the liver and leading to hepatic inadequacy and liver tumour.

Spread

About 20% of the population has hepatic steatosis, of which 10-15% will develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

How is it contracted and recognised?

Causes/infection

Increasingly widespread disease whose causes have not yet been fully explained; it is found more often in middle-aged overweight and obese patients.  The disease is facilitated by the presence of certain genetic mutations and family cases are often found.

Symptoms

Disease often remains silent, with very slight disturbance, such as fatigue and weight loss, or completely without symptoms.
It may arise over several years or even decades.  

Diagnosis

By routine blood tests for the health of the liver; if some parameters are unusually high (e.g. elevated transaminases in a patient with hepatic steatosis) further detailed tests should be carried out. A liver biopsy is the only method of diagnosing NASH with certainty and excluding fatty liver.

How is it treated?

Terapie

The progress of the disease may be halted by changes in life style (healthy diet, increased physical activity) and, in some cases, it is cured without treatment; in certain cases it is treated with Vitamin E. Liver transplant is necessary if patients affected by NASH develop advanced cirrhosis of the liver with hepatic inadequacy and/or liver cancer.

Treatments

Attention to a healthy life style: healthy diet (especially low in fat) and regular physical activity (3 hours per week). In the event of family cases of NASH, check-ups by the family doctor or a specialist are advised.