Observed annually on the fourth Tuesday in March, Diabetes Alert Day is a one-day “wake-up call” that focuses on the
seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding the risk.
This year, Echosens is highlighting the link between liver disease and diabetes and urging individuals and communities to help raise awareness about the impact of diabetes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. It affects about 30.3 million Americans or about 9.4 percent of the U.S. population. Nearly 1 in 4 adults living with diabetes, or 7.2 million Americans, are unaware that they have the disease.
Our goal is to bring greater awareness to the relationship between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an asymptomatic condition characterized by elevated levels of fat in the liver, and diabetes. As a common complication of Type 2 diabetes and obesity, NAFLD can be an overlooked comorbidity.
The good news is that a growing number of primary care providers and liver specialists recognize that NAFLD has become the most common chronic liver disease in developed countries.
Diabetes and NAFLD-NASH
The more severe form of NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), is associated with necrosis, inflammation, and fibrosis. NASH has few symptoms and often normal plasma aminotransferases. Nevertheless, it is a leading cause of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and significantly increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
In a recent study, NAFLD was found in 50% of patients with Type 2 diabetes who had normal aminotransferase levels. The prevalence of NAFLD was 56% in patients with obesity and 36% in patients without obesity. Increasing body mass index was significantly associated with a greater prevalence of NAFLD (P=0.001). In addition, a higher plasma hemoglobin A1C was significantly associated with a higher prevalence of NAFLD (P=0.01) and increased liver triglyceride accumulation (P=0.005).
“The prevalence of NAFLD has increased in parallel with the epidemics of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. More than 90 percent of the patients we see in our diabetic clinic have associated metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and are overweight. Data shows that weight loss and glycemic control can help slow or even reverse the progression of NASH in the early stages of the disease.”
Adla Tessier, M.D., La Maestra Family Clinics
FibroScan®: Assessing Liver Health
To help clinicians combat the spike in NAFLD among patients with Type 2 diabetes, we offer FibroScan®, a non-invasive, painless and quick examination, designed to quantify the stiffness of the liver via a proprietary and patented technique of VCTE™, a medical non-imaging modality that quantifies the stiffness of liver tissue. FibroScan® also measures CAP™, a quantification estimate of liver fat. Together these measurements provide consistent information about the presence or status of disease, which is important in the diagnosis and monitoring of NAFLD.
FibroScan® is designed to be performed by a medical assistant in the physician’s office and is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance plans.
Tessier adds, “Rapid results and test scores on these non-invasive screening tools are extremely helpful in providing additional information to our practitioners. We are empowering our health care providers with data and information that they can use in real-time to refer patients to a specialist or recommend changes to their overall care plans if needed.”
In recognition of Diabetes Alert Day, we are pleased to announce the growing availability of FibroScan® for diagnosis and monitoring as a tool that can make a critical difference in the lives of individuals with diabetes who also face chronic liver disease.
We encourage you to find out if you – or someone you love – is at risk for type 2 diabetes by taking this quick and simple Diabetes Risk Test.