What are complications of fatty liver disease?

Updated: Apr 12, 2018
  • Author: Emily Tommolino, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Continued alcohol consumption may result in a more advanced form of liver disease, either alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis. In a study from Denmark, using a population-based National Registry, investigators noted an increased mortality and an increased cancer risk, particularly liver cancer, among patients discharged with a diagnosis of alcoholic fatty liver. [15]

In patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), steatohepatitis may progress to cirrhosis, accompanied with complications that include variceal bleeding, ascites, encephalopathy, and liver failure. The rate of progression appears to be worse if more than one liver disease (eg, alcoholic liver disease [ALD] or chronic viral hepatitis) is present. Uncontrolled diabetes and hypertriglyceridemia also appear to predict worse fibrosis. [16, 17, 18, 19] The rate of formation of hepatocellular carcinoma appears to be the same as with other forms of liver disease, [20] although NAFLD appears to increase the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients whose livers are not cirrhotic. [21] NAFLD also appears to be a strong and independent risk factor for prediabetes in the general adult population. [22]

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