People with NAFLD, or fatty liver disease, have a buildup of excess fat in the liver due to causes unrelated to alcohol use. Research indicates that NAFLD may lower a person’s life expectancy.
A doctor may diagnose someone with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) if over 5–10% of their liver weight consists of fat.
In the United States, NAFLD is one of the most common causes of liver disease, affecting an estimated
Some people with NAFLD develop a more severe form of the condition that doctors call nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Experts estimate that NASH affects about
This article explores the potential effects of fatty liver disease on a person’s life expectancy. It also discusses NAFLD treatment, prevention, and when to contact a doctor.
- chronic inflammation
- insulin resistance
- altered gut microbiota
- impairment of glucolipid metabolism — glucolipids are fatty substances (lipids) with carbohydrates attached to them
- increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system
People with NAFLD have a 71% higher risk of heart failure-related hospitalization or re-hospitalization than those without NAFLD.
A 2022 study, which examined the risk of cardiovascular disease and life expectancy in NAFLD, found that people with NAFLD may have a lower life expectancy of about
According to an
According to the American Liver Foundation, there is no medical treatment for NAFLD, but a doctor will assess a person’s symptoms and recommend appropriate management techniques for each individual with NAFLD. A healthcare professional may also recommend speaking with a hepatologist, or liver specialist.
Lifestyle modifications a doctor
- gradually losing weight, if applicable
- avoiding alcohol
- quitting smoking
replacingfoods that contain saturated and trans fats with foods that contain unsaturated fat
- engaging in regular physical activity
- limiting sugar intake by consuming less soda and other sugary foods and drinks
- eating more foods that have a milder effect on blood glucose levels, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
Healthcare professionals may recommend a liver transplant if a person has severe liver damage, liver failure, or liver cancer. During this surgical procedure, a surgeon will replace the damaged liver with a healthy liver.
To help prevent NAFLD, a doctor may recommend the following tips:
Learn more about the similarities and differences between NAFL, NAFLD, and NASH.
However, a person should speak with a doctor if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- a buildup of fluid in the abdomen, which doctors call ascites
- abdominal pain
- jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
- a buildup of fluid in the leg, which healthcare professionals call edema
- spider-like blood vessels, which doctors call telangiectasias
A healthcare professional will assess a person’s symptoms and order additional testing to make a diagnosis.
People with NAFLD should also speak with a doctor for guidance about how to manage their condition and to inform them of any new or worsening symptoms they are experiencing.
NAFLD is a condition in which a person has a buildup of excess fat in their liver due to causes unrelated to alcohol. Research indicates that people with NAFLD may have a lower life expectancy than people who do not have NAFLD.
While there is no medical treatment for NAFLD, a doctor may recommend that a person make some lifestyle modifications, including avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and limiting sugary foods and drinks to help manage the condition.
Similarly, a person may help prevent NAFLD by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a moderate weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and taking medication as instructed by a healthcare professional.
People with NAFLD may not experience any symptoms. However, a person should speak with a doctor immediately if they experience symptoms such as jaundice, weakness, and loss of appetite.