Relative risks of cirrhosis from non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

Cirrhosis related to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is associated with fewer complications and a lower mortality compared to cirrhosis from hepatitis C, despite NASH patients' greater risk of dying from cardiovascular events. These findings are published in the April 2006 issue of Hepatology, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). Published on behalf of the society by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hepatology is available online via Wiley InterScience at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology.

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis can develop as a consequence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome. It is considered a "silent" disease, with most sufferers feeling well, in spite of inflammation and damage to the liver. But NASH can progress to cirrhosis in up to 20 percent of cases. With obesity becoming more prevalent in the U.S., the health care burden related to cirrhosis due to NASH is expected to rise. Up to now, however, little has been known of the natural history of cirrhosis associated with NASH.

Researchers led by Arun J. Sanyal, M.D. of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, sought to prospectively define the clinical outcomes of cirrhosis due to NASH, and compare them to those associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. They studied 152 patients with cirrhosis due to NASH and matched them with 150 patients with cirrhosis due to HCV. For each participant, the researchers collected information on mortality and morbidity, including synthetic failure, varices and variceal hemorrhage, ascites, encephalopathy and hepatocellular cancer.

Over ten years, 29 of the 152 subjects with cirrhosis due to NASH died, compared to 44 of the 150 subjects with cirrhosis due to HCV. Sepsis was the most common cause of death in both groups and was often associated with acute or chronic liver failure.

Contact: David Greenberg
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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