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Friday, May 11, 2018

Study: Cirrhosis Patients Often Female

More than one-third of cirrhosis cases are related to alcohol, revealed a seven-year national study of more than 100 million privately insured people. The results were published in the journal Hepatology.

Among 294,215 people with cirrhosis, 105,871 (36 percent) had alcohol-related cirrhosis – and that group was sicker and admitted or readmitted to a hospital more often.

“When I look at this data, it tells me that this is a big problem,” Jessica Mellinger, MD, a Michigan Medicine gastroenterologist and health services researcher at the Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation, said in a statement.

And it’s especially a big problem for females, who had a 50 percent increase in alcohol-related cirrhosis during the seven-year period, according to the study. Men showed a 30 percent increase.

The reason for this heightened risk? “Women process alcohol differently than men and they are more susceptible to damage in the liver than men,” said Dr. Mellinger. “They can develop cirrhosis with less alcohol and in a shorter time frame.” 

Hormones are likely to blame, yet more research is needed to discover exactly why they are so much more susceptible to the damaging effects of alcohol than men, she added. 

A few more study findings:
  • The rates of patients with alcohol-related cirrhosis nearly surpass those of some common cancers.
  • Health care for these patients can cost as much as the cost for cancer patients.
  • Patients often wait until cirrhosis has progressed to see a doctor. This prevents a chance for early diagnosis and treatment.
The study had its limitations, however. For one, researchers have yet to examine cirrhosis claims related to substance abuse. 

What’s more, said Mellinger, many people with alcohol-related cirrhosis are “too sick to remain employed, so more of these patients are insured through government-sponsored insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid.”

More About Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis
Between 10 and 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, usually after 10 or more years of drinking, according to the American Liver Foundation. If left untreated, cirrhosis caused by alcohol can be a life-threatening disease. Symptoms of cirrhosis can be the same as alcoholic hepatitis and also include:
  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • High blood pressure in the liver (portal hypertension)
  • Bleeding from veins in the esophagus (esophageal varices)
  • Behavior changes and confusion
  • Enlarged spleen
Help for Alcohol Addiction
If you or someone you love has an alcohol abuse problem, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. At Complete Harmony, we have helped hundreds of patients detox and restore their whole body using holistic therapies for symptom management and improved wellbeing. To learn more, call today: 866-930-4673.

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