Overweight and obesity have long been associated with over 30 different chronic comorbid conditions. But some of these conditions are more readily talked about with providers than others. The impact of weight on Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Hypertension is pretty clear to both patients and physicians alike.
Fatty liver occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver cells. Over time, this extra fat can lead to inflammation and scarring, or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and putting the patient at highest risk for liver cirrhosis necessitating liver transplant.
The insidious thing about fatty liver is that it generally does not present any symptoms, so it is a condition that can go undiagnosed. However, it is most often suspected when the liver enzymes are elevated on routine blood testing, but is generally definitely confirmed through liver biopsy.
What causes fatty liver isn’t definitely known, but is clearly associated with being overweight or obese. According to the Mayo Clinic, NAFLD affects an estimated 80 million to 100 million Americans, and 90 percent of the patients diagnosed with NASH (and are at high risk for cirrhosis) are either overweight or obese.
Because of the asymptomatic nature of fatty liver disease, physicians may be unknowingly taking preemptive measures to diagnose the disorder when they choose to address their patients’ weight through a medically supervised weight loss program. Robard’s program, for example, involves physician-reviewed medical protocols that require the patient to undergo ongoing medical supervision and blood work that can be helpful in identifying underlying conditions such as fatty liver. And even more
good news – one of the most effective and least invasive methods of treating the disease has been found to be weight loss. So participation in a weight management program can help physicians simultaneously diagnose AND treat the disease. How’s that for efficiency?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis has risen every year since 2007, and with obesity also on the rise, we can count on those deaths to steadily increase -- unless physicians take a proactive approach.
"Weight loss works, whether through a bariatric procedure or a strict dietary approach," says Dr. Jay Horton, director, Center for Human Nutrition at
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Even an eight percent to 10 percent weight loss seems to improve liver fat.”
If you are interested in learning more about fatty liver and the most efficient way to diagnose and treat it, download our free white paper, Liver Enzyme Abnormalities, by Dr. John D. Hernried of The Hernried Center for Medical Weight Loss. Then contact us to find out more about how we can help you get a program started that can help you provide the solutions your patients need to live healthier lives!
Sources: US News, CNBC
Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation