Liver Disease

Liver Disease

I.E. Hepatic Disease

 

Liver disease is defined as any condition that inhibits normal healthy function of the liver.  It is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver leading to inflammation, scarring and eventual loss of function.  There are two primary types of liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic liver disease (ALD).  ALD is the accumulation fat in liver due to excessive alcohol intake.  NAFLD is the accumulation of fat in the liver in absence of excessive alcohol intake and can by caused by poor diet and lifestyle choices, viral infection (Hepatitis A, B and C), medication side effects and/or hereditary disorders.

Currently, NAFLD is the most common type of liver disease primarily due to poor eating habits and life style choices.  It begins with excessive fat accumulation in the liver – this is called Steatosis.  As fat accumulates, low grade chronic inflammation increases.  Once inflammation has risen enough it can develop into a much more serious condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).  NASH can lead to liver scarring, this is called Fibrosis; in this effect, scar tissue begins to replaces healthy liver tissue and the liver gradually begins to lose function. 

Fibrosis, if left untreated and allowed to accumulate, can then lead to liver Cirrhosis, a point when major liver function has been lost and liver failure is a serious risk.  Additionally, chronic inflammation and scarring can lead to worsening of other conditions (e.g. cardiovascular conditions), malignancy and liver cancer.

Alarmingly, liver disease typically develops without symptoms until irreversible damage has been done.

liverinside1.jpg

Early Stages of Liver Disease

Without medical screening, developing liver disease may go undetected.

 

What should I look for?

In some cases, there may be no indication that the liver is unhealthy. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics warns that up to half of those with liver disease show no signs.  Further, in cases that mild symptoms present themselves, the most common are “very non-specific and include fatigue or excessive tiredness, lack of drive, and/or occasionally itching.”

With any cause of liver disease, noticeable  inflammation of the liver or bile duct may occur, characterized by pain and/or enlargement of the abdomen. However, an inflamed liver may cause no discomfort at all.  If inflammation is allowed to persist, over time, it can cause permanent damage to the liver. If liver disease is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, inflammation can be reduced along with the risk of irreversible damage to the liver. 

Currently, physicians diagnose liver disease by employing imaging/scanning technology or performing surgical liver biopsies. These modalities are generally characterized by high cost, low convenience and a certain level of risk.

LiverFASt™, a blood based, non invasive liver screen, now offers an assessment of steatosis (fattiness), inflammation and fibrosis (scarring) without the relative risks and costs that are the standard in current medical practices.

health-liver-fibronostics.png

The progression of liver disease

Understanding the progression of liver disease may help you make better health choices.

NAFLD | NASH

NAFLD | NASH

NAFLD is the most prevalent liver disease in developed countries. It is characterized by fat build up in the liver, typically does not cause noticeable symptoms, and marks the beginning of liver disease. Prolonged fat accumulation leads to chronic inflammation and the development of NASH.

[LEARN MORE]

Fibrosis

Fibrosis

When NASH and chronic inflammation go untreated it will start to cause the liver to scar. These scar tissues will replace the healthy liver tissue and reduce liver function. May see symptoms such as abdominal pain and swelling.

[LEARN MORE]

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis

High accumulation of scar tissue leads to Cirrhosis of the liver which noticeably reduces liver function, and if left untreated, can lead to liver failure. Key symptoms include jaundice, gastrointestinal bleeding and significant abdominal swelling.

[LEARN MORE]

Liver Cancer

Liver Cancer

Chronic inflammation and Cirrhosis (scarring) can lead to malignancy within the liver, or liver cancer. The most common type of primary liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which displays similar symptoms to cirrhosis and can also lead to liver failure.

[LEARN MORE]

About FIBRONOSTICS

We are a team of life science experts, physicians, mathematicians, health IT professionals and software architects.