The liver Disease that is often missed
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease in western countries. It is defined as an excess of fat on the liver in the absence of increased alcohol intake. If left undiagnosed, NAFLD may lead to cirrhosis of the liver.
There are several factors that increase the risk of developing Fatty Liver – one of which is Type 2 Diabetes.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness in this country most patients with Type 2 Diabetes are not aware that they may carry a risk of developing liver disease as a consequence of their diabetes.
In June 2019, we were invited by Professor Suzanne Norris – one of the country’s leading Hepatologists and Gastroenterologists - to participate in Ireland’s first ever Pharmacy-led “Diabetes Liver Screen” initiative.
Over the course of a number of weeks, we invited people with Type 2 Diabetes to come instore for a free 10 minute/non-invasive/pain-free liver test. Following the scan, a consultant report with recommendations was sent to each person along with their GP/consultant so appropriate treatment could commence immediately (where necessary).
The outcomes of this Screening initiative are significant and for some people, were life changing.
- 84% had Fatty Liver (NAFLD) - only 16% had normal scans
- 47% had severe Fatty Liver (NAFLD):
- 1 in 4 people screened had evidence of fibrosis/scarring of the liver:
- 56% who had advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis of the liver
- 44% who had mild-to moderate fibrosis
NAFLD can be prevented and/or reversed through healthy eating, exercise and weight reduction and so early diagnosis is key. Awareness for the people who participated in this initiative has given them the opportunity and the knowledge to take necessary steps to prevent further liver damage and future complications such as liver cancer.
Despite International Clinical Guidelines that recommend that for Type 2 Diabetes, the presence of NAFLD should be routinely screened, this is not currently the case in Ireland. Meaghers Pharmacy will continue to work with Professor Suzanne Norris in the hope of raising more awareness on this issue and highlighting the need to for this to become part of routine screening in Type 2 Diabetics.