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Know Your Risk for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

October 17, 2018

WALTHAM, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In support of Liver Cancer Awareness Month alongside the American Liver Foundation, Echosens calls for increased awareness of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and its more severe form called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is projected to become the leading cause for liver transplants by the year 2030. The good news is that NAFLD is reversible if caught in the early stages and accompanied by lifestyle changes. With estimates that about 20 percent of people with NAFLD have NASH, early detection can help to prevent more serious conditions such as cirrhosis or scarring of the liver, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or liver cancer.

Laurent Sandrin, founder of Echosens, an innovative high-technology company offering the FibroScan family of products, explains, “NAFLD is an asymptomatic disease and one of the most common causes of liver disease in the US, affecting the livers of more than 100 million Americans – over 30 percent of the US population.”

NAFLD is the accumulation of significant amounts of excess fat in the liver, which is not caused by alcohol. It is more common among people age 40-60 who are overweight, diabetic, or have high cholesterol or triglycerides, with greater prevalence among women.

“NAFLD is one of the most common causes of liver disease in the U.S., yet a lack of awareness regarding symptoms and risk factors continues to fuel this silent epidemic,” says Tom F. Nealon, president and CEO of the American Liver Foundation. “The good news is that NAFLD is oftentimes reversible with the implementation of a healthy lifestyle. We have the ability to stem this deadly disease though increased awareness and early detection. So please, speak with your physician today to determine your risk. Catching NAFLD in its earliest stages can stem the progression of liver disease and save thousands of patients from developing NASH.”

An interim look at an ongoing study of 10,000 patients with no history of liver disease was conducted in community-based endoscopy centers by the Florida Research Institute (FRI), a global leader in disease research. Among the key findings, only 43 percent of patients evaluated had what is considered normal livers, while the remainder of patients had some form of liver abnormality, ranging from elevated liver fat to liver fibrosis. The study used FibroScan, the non-invasive backbone for cost effectively diagnosing and managing liver disease at point of care, to measure fat and stiffness levels in the liver.

Guy Neff, M.D., MBA, director of the FRI and principal investigator of the study, reports, “This analysis of the first 367 patients suggests a significant rate of undiagnosed steatohepatitis liver disease in the population studied. These results underscore the importance of identifying asymptomatic patients who may be at risk for advancing disease for earlier intervention. This high prevalence of disease, a dramatic rise from our observations in the last decade, are indicative of the critical need for ongoing assessment.”

About the American Liver Foundation

Founded in 1976, the American Liver Foundation (ALF) is the nation’s largest patient advocacy organization for people with liver disease. ALF reaches more than 2 million individuals each year with health information, education and support services via its national office, 16 U.S. divisions and an active online presence. Recognized as a trusted voice for liver disease patients, ALF also operates a national toll-free helpline (800-GO-LIVER), educates patients, policymakers and the public, and provides grants to early-career researchers to help find a cure for all liver diseases. ALF is celebrating more than 40 years of turning patients into survivors. For more information about ALF, please visit www.liverfoundation.org.