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Study Assesses Survival in Patients With Liver Disease

Mortality found to be higher for NASH and NAFLD patients than general Swedish population

FRIDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have a higher risk of death than the general population, according to research published in the February issue of Hepatology.

Cecilia Söderberg, of the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from 256 subjects with persistently elevated levels of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase, without evidence of liver or kidney disease. All subjects underwent liver biopsy in the early 1980s.

From this group, the researchers found that 118 (46 percent) had NAFLD, of which 51 were deemed NASH and 67 as nonalcoholic bland steatosis. Compared to the general Swedish population, those with NASH had 86-percent higher mortality and those with NAFLD had 69-percent higher mortality. Liver diseases, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), were the third most common cause of death in those with NAFLD.

"The frequency of HCC is almost 1000-fold higher in this group [NAFLD] than what has been reported for Sweden earlier. Our findings motivate a more active approach to the diagnosis and treatment of NASH, with more frequent use of liver biopsy for diagnosis. Thus, subjects with NASH have an increased risk of death; much emphasis should be put into treatment. New treatment strategies have to be sought," the authors conclude.

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