Hepatitis C and the Risk of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

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For Hepatitis C patients the Hep C virus is not the only risk for liver damage. Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is on the rise, primarily in the U.S. and can complicate fighting Hepatitis C.

 

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus. Hep C (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that attacks the liver causing inflammation with risk of becoming chronic, damaging liver tissue and interfering with liver function.

 

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a liver condition affecting people who drink little to no alcohol but have too much fat stored in the liver. NAFLD is the most common form of chronic liver disease in the U.S. affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people.

 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs in every age group but especially in people in their 40’s and 50’s who are at high risk of heart disease because of risk factors like obesity and type 2 diabetes. The condition is also closely linked to metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of abnormalities including increased abdominal fat, poor ability to use the hormone insulin, high blood pressure and high blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat.”

 

For patients with fatty liver disease there is a danger of developing inflammation which can lead to liver damage such as fibrosis or permanent scarring like cirrhosis. Fat in the liver region is called visceral fat. This can impair damaged liver tissue from regenerating. NAFLD is the third most common risk factor for liver cancer.

 

For Hepatitis C patients who have NAFLD, this makes fighting Hep C even harder. Not only does the virus need to be eliminated in order to stop further damage from occurring but the increased fat build up in the liver interferes with the liver being able to remove toxins from the blood. These fat deposits also need to be reduced and eliminated from causing damage and help healthy liver tissue to regenerate.

 

The good news is that majority of risk factors with NAFLD can be taken care of by the patient, which in turn helps the liver. Reducing a fatty liver reduces the stress put on the liver.

 

In other words, make your liver cells as strong as they can be in order to fight the Hepatitis C virus. Chronic Hepatitis C can lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis. With Hepatitis C treatment today there is a 95-99% chance for a cure.

 

Even if you have had Hepatitis C treatment and cured, if you have NAFLD you can still be at danger of damage to your liver.

 

Helping your liver by choosing a healthy lifestyle can help you live longer with reduced factors to other diseases like high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease or diabetes.

 

Risk Factors for Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are:

  • Being overweight, particularly when fat is stored in the abdomen
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood fat levels, either triglycerides or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Underactive pituitary gland (hypopituitarism)

 

Treatment to help control or reduce fat buildup in your liver:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercise
  • Lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Controlling your diabetes
  • Avoiding alcohol

 

Stay tuned next week as we discuss more about Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and what you can do to help your liver.

 

Do you have any questions about Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hepatitis C? Where are you in your fight with Hep C or with NAFLD?

 

Share your comments below.

 

To view this post or other resources, see our home page at, Life Beyond Hep C.

 

Related Posts:

 

10 Proactive Steps in Your Hep C Battle Plan

 

 

 

 

 

12 Healthy Diet Tips for Hep C and Liver Disease

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

Mislabeled Dietary Supplements May Cause Liver Damage

 

 

 

 

Resources and References:

Mayo Clinic

John Hopkins Medical Health Library

 

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4 Responses to Hepatitis C and the Risk of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

  1. Suzanne January 3, 2018 at 10:06 am #

    Good Morning,
    This is a good article and have read about it several times when I do my researching. It is quite common but can cause danger to your liver. it is always good to be proactive and get your weight down which in turn can help with diabetes and any other illness stemmed from being overweight. The best way to handle alcohol is abstinence in all cases. It is bad on your liver any way you look at it. I try to follow the diet recommended by professionals I have talked to. All of this is important and of course we all want a long healthy life but have to be smart about too.

    This is a great article Connie and this is more common than you would believe. The bottom line is take good care of yourself with diet and exercise if that is what your doctor recommends. I blew it over the holidays but certainly can find my way back to a good diet. It’s Mark’s fault for asking me to cook all of the food we ate, ha!

    God Bless each of the warriors and a Happy New Year to all!

    In Christ,

    Suzanne

    • Connie M January 3, 2018 at 2:04 pm #

      Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you for sharing today. You are absolutely right, NAFLD is very common. We may not have control over Hep C or many factors, but NAFLD is something we can help. As a patient we have to be proactive about our choices, habits and our health. We can make a difference with our liver and health when we make those healthy choices.

      I hear ya though, holiday time is always a challenge to eat healthy. Moderation is always good. I indulged too much myself. But we’re back in step with a new year and new beginnings!

      Blessings my friend,
      Connie

  2. Richard s. January 3, 2018 at 10:25 am #

    Another excellent article Connie. I also have this problem. I must loose weight and exercise more. The person that donated my liver died of a stroke. I dont know if it is possible, but I never had high blood pressure or a fib until after my transplant. I dont know the answers, but praise the Lord for my new liver, because I would have been gone long ago without it. God bless all the warriors with good health.In Christ, Richard.

    • Connie M January 3, 2018 at 2:14 pm #

      Hi Richard,
      Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you found the article helpful. After my last Hep C treatment I found I had gained weight and for the first time in my life my blood work showed my cholesterol creeping up there. I was advised from my doctor that if I kept going this was not going to a happy place and would need to take medicine to bring it down if I didn’t make some changes. I had been through a long journey with Hep C to finally receive the cure and now unhealthy eating choices and lack of exercise was creating a new problem. If I kept going I would be in danger of developing NAFLD and I did not want that. I not only wanted to honor God with what He had given me but take control of a dangerous situation before it got worse. I have been able to lose weight and become physically active more. My blood work is now totally normal and great. It was a wake up call for me.

      I’m so glad you received the gift of a new liver. We are soooo glad you’re here. What a great gift you are to us all.

      Blessings my friend,
      Connie

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