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The fatty liveror the non-alcoholic fatty liver is the accumulation of fat in hepatocytes, the main cell in the liver. This fat deposit can build up for two reasons: either because it is produced in excess or because its removal is reduced. It must also be differentiated from another very common cause of fat accumulation in the liver: that due to chronic alcohol consumption. Therefore, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is one in which fat accumulates for metabolic reasons (bodily processes performing internal functions) and is closely associated with obesity and diabetes.
Fatty Liver Disease explained in first person
Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
It is up to the patient to change and reverse it. Just by following a healthy lifestyle.
Over time, this fatty deposit can damage liver cells and start a process of inflammation and then repair, with liver cells being replaced by scars. This scarring is called fibrosis and, with time, the build-up of fibrosis and disruption of the normal shape and structure of the liver leads to cirrhosis, which is a chronic condition that causes poor liver function.
How many people are affected by fatty liver disease?
Currently, fatty liver is highly prevalent in society, with up to 25% of the general population in western countries estimated as having it. Studies carried out in Catalonia also confirm these figures. Although the disease can occur at any age, it is usually diagnosed between 50 and 70 years of age.
However, as it is closely associated with diabetes and obesity, and these two diseases are increasing dramatically in children, it may be that, in the not too distant future, patients with advanced fibrosis will be diagnosed earlier.
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Substantiated information by:
Isabel Graupera Garcia-MilàHepatologist Senior SpecialistHepatology Service
Marta Cervera CarbonellNurseHepatology Service
Pere Ginès GibertHepatologistHepatology Service
Published: 19 August 2022
Updated: 26 August 2022
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