What every woman needs to know about fatty liver disease

It was a routine request for a preoperative consultation in the hospital.
I cheerfully introduced myself to my 33-year-old female patient. She had presented to the emergency room with upper abdominal pain. She had an ultrasound of her abdomen performed which revealed inflammation of her gallbladder. She was scheduled to have surgery the following day.

I briefly read the ultrasound report I noticed an additional abnormality. I asked her to tell me about herself. She had a history of high blood pressure otherwise considered herself healthy. She did not drink alcohol but consumed several cans of soda a day. She had a twin sister recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Her mother who was present in the room, also had type 2 diabetes. It seemed to be coming together in my mind.

I assured her that I thought she would do well with the surgery, however, that I had found a slight concern on the ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that she had fat in her liver. I explained to her what this meant and some of the things in her history that had put her at risk for this happening. I shared with her that because she was obese with a history of high blood pressure as well as having a family history type 2 diabetes mellitus she was at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes herself.

So what is fatty liver disease?

My patient had is a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, commonly called fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is becoming more common with some studies showing that up it affects up to 46% of adult Americans. It is more common in women. It usually develops between 40 and 50 years of age, although there are some young people in their teens being diagnosed with fatty liver disease. Many people do not know that they have fatty liver disease. Up to 2-3% of people have a more condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH can progress to advanced liver disease called cirrhosis.

Some Conditions associated with fatty liver disease

  • Obesity