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Non-alcoholic fatty liver indicates diabetes, heart issues

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Dr Harsh Vardhan

 Rohit Shishodia
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an indicator for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic syndromes like hypertension, abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia and glucose intolerance.

This was pointed out by India’s Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan during the launch of Operational Guidelines for Integration of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) with National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS).

Referring to different epidemiological studies, Dr Vardhan said these studies indicate the prevalence of NAFLD is around 9% to 32% of the general population in the country with a higher prevalence in those with overweight or obesity and those with diabetes or prediabetes.

“Researchers have found NAFLD in 40% to 80% of people who have type 2 diabetes and in 30% to 90% of people who are obese. Studies also suggest that people with NAFLD have a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Vardhan.

“Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in NAFLD. Once the disease develops, there is no specific cure available, and health promotion and prevention aspects targeting weight reduction, healthy lifestyle, and control of aforementioned risk factors are the mainstays to disease progression and prevent the mortality and morbidity due to NAFLD,” he advised.

Dr Vardhan pointed out that program strategies can easily be aligned to prevent NAFLD through lifestyle changes, early diagnosis, and management of associated non-communicable diseases as well as NAFLD.

“Accordingly, doable actions have been identified with main focus on health promotion and prevention of common NCDs which would also specifically cater to the identified needs of NAFLD,” shared the minister.

"NAFLD, the abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver in the absence of secondary causes of fatty liver, such as harmful alcohol use, viral hepatitis, or medications, is a serious health concern as it encompasses a spectrum of liver abnormalities, from a simple non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL, simple fatty liver disease) to more advanced ones like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and even liver cancer," said Dr Vardhan

Dr Varhan has informed that the global burden of NASH has more than doubled over the last two decades. Globally, NASH caused 40 lakh prevalent cases of compensated cirrhosis in 1990, which increased to 94 lakh cases in 2017. NAFLD is emerging as an important cause of liver disease in India.


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