Preventing Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: The Need of the Hour
Liver diseases have become a growing concern in India, with an increasing number of people suffering from lifestyle-related disorders. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) has a prevalence of around 32% of the general population and a much higher percentage of people suffering from obesity, diabetes, and dyslipidemia. The accumulation and build-up of excess fat in the liver cells can lead to serious health implications and even liver cancer.
A healthy liver contains fat, but when fat in the liver cells increases to 5-10% of the liver weight, it is classified as fatty liver. NAFLD is the accumulation and build-up of excess fat in the liver cells and affects individuals who consume minimal or no alcohol. It is further classified into Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFL) and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH).
– NAFL is when an individual has simple fat buildup that has no inflammation or damage
– NASH is when an individual has inflammation or cell damage in addition to the fat buildup that may cause future complications
Prevention is Key
Due to the lack of recognizable symptoms and awareness about NAFLD, many people are unaware of their condition. The focus thus shifts to prevention through healthy lifestyle choices, weight loss, and associated disease management. The Government of India has integrated NAFLD into the flagship program for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), the National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke (NPCDCS) to preempt preventive measures to counter this threat.
– Routine blood tests or radiologic investigations are used to screen for NAFLD
– A liver biopsy is required in critical cases
– No medical interventions can reverse the disease, only management and control are possible
The Global Liver Institute launched a public education campaign, International NASH Day, in 2018 to raise visibility and urgency around NAFLD and NASH. The NPCDCS has launched a media campaign to create awareness about NCDs nationwide using multiple offline and online media vehicles. Social and digital platforms are leveraged for raising awareness, dispelling myths, and sharing information about liver diseases.
– Patient Support Groups and Patient Awareness Initiatives such as LivAlert have been launched recently to provide healthcare professionals and primary caregivers opportunities to assist patients in monitoring and adherence to preventive and management measures
– These platforms educate users about the symptoms, condition, and risk factors and share valuable tips on diet and lifestyle modifications
The Need of the Hour
On International NASH Day, let’s LivAlert, build a stronger resistance against liver diseases, and strive for a healthier future. The burden of liver disease in India is difficult to assess, but it has a significant impact on society and the economy. The establishment of a National Level Centre of Excellence to establish guidelines for diagnosis, increase awareness, train healthcare professionals, and develop the monitoring and evaluation framework is a step in the right direction.
Rajeev Sibal, President – India Region Formulations (IRF), Lupin, emphasizes the need for preventive measures and healthy lifestyle choices to combat liver diseases.
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Published On Jun 8, 2023 at 06:44 AM IST