Today I am sharing a closer look at one of the biggest organs in our body, our liver. With over 100 different liver diseases, it’s important that we are vigilant in protecting this vital organ and understanding these conditions. For instance, the liver disease NASH (Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis) can go undetected for decades because symptoms are often minimal until the disease has advanced. NASH, which results when fat builds up in the liver causing inflammation, is a growing health problem that is already the second-leading cause of liver transplant in the U.S. By 2020, it’s expected to be first.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, pre diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol or high blood pressure you may be at greater risk for NASH, and should have regular blood function tests during your annual physicals. There are currently no medicines approved to treat NASH, but if you or a loved one has this disease, talk to your doctor about participating in a clinical trial, such as NASHStudy.com. Also, check out the great infographic below for more about NASH.
A great friend of mine is battling another liver disease, called Budd Chiari Syndrome. While this isn’t associated with NASH, there are lots of similarities in the treatment and care. Kim’s story is a stark reminder of the serious complications liver disease presents.
At 16 weeks pregnant Kim went in to get her baby’s gender sonogram. As she tells the story of that day she remembers the little details leading up to what she thought would be a routine gender reveal. The crinkle of the paper on the exam table, the coldness of the ultrasound gel and the butterflies of excitement… but mostly she recalls the confusion on the technician’s face as she ran the wand over her belly. The tech excused herself and Kim along with her husband filled themselves with worry and lots of prayer. When the tech returned with the doctor he assured them the baby was a perfect little boy, but that Kim’s liver was extremely enlarged.
Kim found herself at a GI doctor who diagnosed her. She had a rare liver disease caused by blood clots that were preventing blood flow from the liver to the heart, causing liver congestion that led to significant liver damage. She was told that if left untreated, her life expectancy was 3 years. Similar to NASH, there is no cure for Budd Chiari Syndrome except for liver transplant.
Doctors suggested she terminate the pregnancy and focus on her health. But she chose not to, because more than ever, Kim knew this was her miracle baby; the baby that shed light on this disease. He gave her the strength and hope to fight, even while knowing there wasn’t a cure.
Today, seven years later, Kim fills her body with medicines to remove the toxins her liver can’t filter, is constantly sick and exhausted, and suffers from memory loss. Her disease is unpredictable. She doesn’t know how long she will be stable for, or when her health will take a turn for the worst. Her life expectancy is unknown and she lives for the next day with her two boys and husband. Kim is currently going into her seventh year on the liver transplant waiting list.
My hope is that Kim’s story serves as a reminder of the serious complications liver disease presents. Also, specifically for NASH, symptoms can go undetected for decades because they are often minimal until the disease has advanced. If you or a loved one has NASH, talk to your doctor about participating in a clinical trial – one clinical study that is currently enrolling is www.NASHStudy.com.
This post was sponsored by Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a biopharmaceutical company, and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation, including whether enrolling in a clinical trial, such as NASHStudy.com, could be the right option for you.
Liver Health NASH
This “silent”, but increasingly common liver disease affects more than 12% of the US adult population. If you have diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol or high blood pressure you may be at risk for a potentially dangerous liver disease known as NASH. Discuss getting checked with your doctor to participate in a clinical trial for the treatment on NASH. There are currently no medicines approved to treat NASH, but with diet and lifestyle changes, there is hope.
This post was sponsored by Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a biopharmaceutical company, and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation, including whether enrolling in a clinical trial is the right option for you.