Here’s what you need to know about fatty liver

Updated 05/27/2022 11:34 AM

  • One in four people in the world suffers from fatty liver.
  • An unhealthy diet is often to blame. The result: too much stored fat impairs the vital functions of the liver.
  • An expert offers advice on recognizing and treating an understated widespread disease.

You can find more health topics here

One in four people in the world suffers from fatty liver. This is the conclusion of the American Heart Association. About 27 percent of the population in Germany suffers from fatty liver, and the trend is rising. The reason: more and more people are overweight. Anyone with hyperlipidemia should expect a variety of health consequences.

Who is affected by fatty liver?

On the other hand, relatively harmless fatty deposits in the liver can become inflamed: in three to five percent of cases, nutrition-related fatty liver disease progresses to inflammatory steatohepatitis (NASH). This leads to liver cancer in ten to twenty percent of patients.

On the other hand, patients with fatty liver suffer from cardiovascular diseases. These can lead to a heart attack and are the leading cause of death in people with fatty liver.

What age groups are affected?

Fatty liver tends to affect people between the ages of 55 and 75 in particular. But more and more children who are overweight at a young age are also suffering from it.

“The phenomenon of fatty liver is a Western problem of well-being that does not only affect adults. Unfortunately, we are currently seeing the highest increase in the group of children. Then they develop liver damage earlier. It starts with obesity at an early age, after which the increased incidence of fatty liver can be measured”, explains Prof. Dr. Andreas Geyer, Head of the Liver Center at the University Hospital in Würzburg, in conversation with our editors.

How does a fatty liver become noticeable?

Symptoms of fatty liver are not very specific. Obvious symptoms are difficult to identify at first and can therefore remain undetected for a long time. Liver expert, Dr. Andreas Gayer reports: “People sometimes feel pressure in the upper right abdomen or feel generally weak. But this can also be a sign of many other diseases. The fact that there are no obvious symptoms makes early detection difficult.”

On the other hand, the late signs are a pronounced decrease in performance in daily life and yellow eyes.

What does good preventative care look like?

To prevent inflammation and scarring of the liver, experts recommend regular ultrasounds by your family doctor. Visibly enlarged, enlarged and lighter organ as well as altered edges indicate that the liver is very fatty. Regular monitoring of liver values ​​also helps. In case of already measurable hepatitis or scarring, regular ultrasound examinations are recommended.

What are the causes of fatty liver disease?

If you eat a lot of fat and sugar and do little exercise, you are triggering hyperlipidemia. This can be dangerous because the liver is the body’s power plant and centrally controls our metabolism. Life is not possible without a healthy liver.

Read also: Up to seven cubes of sugar: whatever’s in the coffee from the fridge

In addition to quantity, food quality also plays a role. Saturated fats in particular, such as those found in many animal foods such as butter, whipped cream, lard, meat, and sausages, make liver fatty. This also applies to short-chain sugar, which is found in white bread, sweets, fruit juices, lemon juice, beer and dairy products, for example.

Explains Professor Dr. Andreas Gayer of the University Hospital Würzburg.

What is the treatment and above all prevention?

Staying healthy and staying healthy is not difficult in itself: the right diet and frequent exercise are critical success factors. For people who are overweight and therefore often suffer from fatty liver, losing weight is the top priority. Anyone who loses five to ten percent of their weight has a good chance of recovery.

There’s no such thing as “too late,” a liver expert knows: “It’s important for the fat to go away from the liver. Any form of weight loss also results in lower liver fat. Even if the liver is already infected it becomes inflamed,” by losing Weight, inflammation can be stopped and scars recede. Unfortunately, only about 20 percent of sufferers are able to lose weight in the long term, and many are unable to make sustainable changes in their lifestyle.”

Read also: Epidemiological ratio: The majority of adults in Europe are overweight

What are the consequences of fatty liver?

Experts estimate that fatty liver could lead to more heart attacks, cirrhosis and liver cancer by 2030. Says Prof. Dr. Andreas Gayer situation.


© Professor Dr. Eagle Pictures / FM

However, it is not yet possible to predict when a drug that will save these “five to twelve” patients will be brought to market. Even if a lot of research and testing has been done – so far there is no immediate cure for fatty liver. However, medications taken by patients with fatty liver disease with diabetes or dyslipidemia still contribute to the gradual improvement of fatty liver.

About the expert:

Mr. Dr. Andrew Gear Head of the Department of Hepatology at the Medical Clinic and Polyclinic II at the University Hospital Würzburg. He is one of the main initiators of the German NAFLD registry and a recognized expert on the topic of fatty liver disease.

Sources used:

  • A conversation with Professor Dr. Andrew Gear
  • American Heart Association: About 1 in 4 adults has a liver disorder often associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

Monkey pox, Corona

An increase in the number of monkeypox cases is expected in Germany. But infectious scientists and pediatricians say there is no new pandemic. The opposition is calling on the federal government to take more measures to prevent panic. Thumbnail: Imago

Leave a Comment