Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Gastrointestinal Unit, Liver Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA USA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
The purpose of this review article is to raise awareness of the significance of steatosis that exist within the spectrum of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). While the impact of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and its potential for histologic progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma is widely appreciated, the impact of non-NASH NAFLD (steatosis) on morbidity and mortality is less well recognized.
NAFLD is a spectrum of hepatic pathology with a rising prevalence worldwide. Steatosis without fibrosis carries a low risk of progression to cirrhosis but likely confers an increased risk of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.
About a quarter of the world population is affected by NAFLD. NAFLD represents a burden to affected individuals, economics of the health care system and contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality worldwide. An increased level of awareness and knowledge about risk factors and diagnostic strategies is needed to identify patients affected with disease.