What is liver cirrhosis?

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Liver cirrhosis is the formation and accumulation of scars on the liver as a consequence of chronic damage. These scars are also called fibrous tissue. Cirrhosis causes the loss of normal liver tissue and alters the function of the liver; this causes the symptoms of the disease to appear.  

Liver cirrhosis is caused by prolonged damage to the liver over time. There are different factors that can damage the liver: for example, viral infections; toxic substances such as alcohol; metabolic diseases, such as diabetes; or autoimmune diseases, which cause chronic inflammation of the liver. Thus, any disease that chronically affects the liver can end up causing cirrhosis

Stages of liver damage

Cirrhosis develops over years and depends on several factors, such as the type of trigger, the presence of more than one risk factor or the time of exposure to that factor. Not everyone with chronic liver disease develops cirrhosis; there are also individual predisposing factors involved. The progression of other liver diseases to cirrhosis occurs very slowly and asymptomatically; so affected people do not show symptoms until advanced stages of the disease. In addition, liver cirrhosis is a disease that is often aggravated by the occurrence of complications. 

Every year, 2 million people die from liver diseases worldwide, with 1 million as a consequence of liver cirrhosis; thus, it is the 11th leading cause of death worldwide. In the case of Spain, an estimated 8,000 deaths occur annually from liver cirrhosis. 

Substantiated information by:

Adrià Juanola Mayos
Elisa Pose Mendez
Isabel Graupera Garcia-Milà
Martina Perez Guasch
Pere Ginès Gibert

Published: 5 January 2023
Updated: 5 January 2023

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