Science

Fatty liver can worsen after summer excesses, warns an expert

Dr. Marta Abadía, hepatologist and specialist in the digestive system at the Medical-Surgical Center for Digestive Diseases (CMED), has warned that fatty liver can worsen after the excesses of summer.

Fatty liver or metabolic hepatic steatosis (MHmet) is the most frequent liver disease among adults, affecting more than 20 percent of the adult population, according to data from the Spanish Foundation for the Digestive System.

“In fact, it is a pathology that does not present symptoms, being diagnosed in many cases in a routine analysis when the transaminase index is measured or in an abdominal ultrasound requested for another reason,” explains the expert.

Summer and vacations make us abandon the eating and exercise routines that we have throughout the year. “We tend to consume more caloric foods, with more sugar (ice cream, soft drinks). In addition, the amount of alcohol we drink also increases, with amounts that can reach what is understood as harmful consumption, which corresponds to more than 20 grams in women and more than 30 grams of alcohol per day in men (understanding that a glass of wine or a bottle of beer is equivalent to 10 grams of alcohol.) If we add to this that we also tend to lead a more sedentary life, it is common for men to fatty deposits in the liver are increased”, adds the doctor.

Fatty liver is characterized by the presence of fat inside fat cells, called hepatocytes. “It is usually associated with Metabolic Syndrome, which brings together a series of disorders that include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels,” says the specialist from CMED.

However, if you gain a lot of weight, do not take care of your diet and maintain a sedentary life, it can favor the development of fatty liver.

To find out if you have fatty liver, it is usually enough to make an appointment with a specialist to identify risk factors that may favor its development, if transaminases (liver enzymes) are altered in a blood test and perform an ultrasound abdominal to confirm that there is a deposit at the liver level.

Meanwhile, to control MetHE it is important to see if, in addition to fat in the liver, there is inflammation and fibrosis. When there is inflammation, you suffer from what is called steatohepatitis and there are no markers or imaging tests for its detection.

For its part, in the case of fibrosis, it can be diagnosed by non-invasive tests, such as fibroscan, through a blood test called ELH (Enhanced Liver Fibrosis) and another called OWLiver In some cases, it is necessary to resort to more invasive tests such as liver biopsy.

“Around 25 percent of patients with fatty liver have steatohepatitis, so food should be taken care of throughout the year,” says Dr. Marta Abadía.

To date, there is no pharmacological treatment that has proven effective in treating this liver disease. The only treatment with consistent scientific evidence is weight loss and controlling the factors associated with metabolic syndrome, that is, keeping hypertension under control, controlling blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Diet and exercise, always supervised by specialists, are currently the most effective treatment.

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