What is NASH?
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a a buildup of fat cells in the liver that is not caused by alcohol. Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis, or NASH, is a term used to describe the more advanced form of NAFLD where inflammation of the liver from fat leads to scarring and damage.
NAFLD is most commonly an outcome of a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. NAFLD tends to develop in people that are overweight or have abdominal obesity. Some additional risk factors include type II diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- High blood pressure
- High Cholesterol
- High Triglycerides
- Metabolic Syndrome
- No Symptoms (most common)
- Enlarged Liver
- Yellowing of skin (Jaundice)
- Abdominal Pain
- Diet / Exercise
- Weight loss
- Clinical Trials
Be proactive against NAFLD
Even if your disease is in an early stage, we recommend patients get regular check-ups with their health care provider. Routine bloodwork and monitoring with a FibroScan will allow your doctor to evaluate your liver’s health and address potential disease progression sooner. Because NASH rarely presents symptoms until more advanced stages, patients do not often address the issue or receive a diagnosis until the liver becomes severely scarred.
Being proactive with your health can help prevent advanced liver disease and cirrhosis. By maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and limiting alcohol consumption, you reduce your chances of developing the known risk factors that contribute to NAFLD and NASH.
KCRI can analyze your recent labs and help recommend next steps to keep your liver’s health a top priority in any stage of life.
FAQs about NASH
Frequently Asked Questions
Is NASH the same thing as liver failure?
NASH and liver failure are not synonymous. NASH is considered an aggressive form of Fatty Liver Disease, and can lead to advanced scarring and cirrhosis. However, if left unaddressed, these conditions can (and often) lead to liver failure.
What is a Fibrosis Score?
A fibrosis score is the level of scaring within the liver that is caused by varying liver disease. There are 4 stages of fibrosis. Stage 0 is “normal” liver tissue and can advance up to stage 4 where a person is diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Your doctor can order a fibrosis score through a number of tests including a laboratory test, liver biopsy, and a non-invasive test called a Fibroscan.
KCRI can assess your liver fibrosis in a few minutes using shear wave technology. Please see our Fibroscan page.
What does KCRI look for when assessing the degree of liver damage?
After a Fibroscan Test, we may find that patients have varying degrees of liver damage. If we find liver damage without the presence of fat in the liver, we can help you look for other causes. If we find fat without liver damage, we typically provide education on the importance of diet and exercise and can set you up with a provider to receive long-term care. If your liver shows signs of both fat and damage, this is the first sign that a clinical trial might be right for you.
Can NASH cause health complications?
NASH can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and cause it to function poorly. Once this happens, approximately 1 in 4 patients will develop other advanced symptoms such as:
- – Ascites, or abdominal fluid buildup. When the liver stops functioning and doesn’t push fluid out of your body like it should, toxins and waste can build up in your abdomen.
- – Esophageal Varices, or when the veins inside your esophagus and stomach bulge and bleed because they can’t function properly anymore. This can lead to internal bleeding and can be fatal.
- – Hepatic Encephalopathy. When your liver cannot process toxins properly, it may cause a build up throughout the body and can lead to disorientation and the inability to complete thoughts.
- – Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). The most common form of liver cancer.
How can I treat my NAFLD / NASH?
Fortunately, NASH can be reversed by reducing weight, improving lifestyle, and extracting fat out of the liver via medications, diet, and exercise. If lifestyle alone is not enough to completely eliminate or significantly reduce the fat in the liver of a NASH patient, we may recommend a clinical trial to help identify potential solutions.
Please click Here to view Nash Clinical trials available to you at Kansas City Research Institute.
Don't see the study you're looking for?
Those that Participate:
- See a board-certified physician at no cost
- Have access to possible new treatment options before the general public
- May be compensated for time and travel
We are continually getting new research studies for all types of conditions. Submit your information today to be contacted for upcoming research opportunities.