A combination of possible factors could be contributing to a recent uptick in hospitalizations for alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, said Nancy Reau, MD, section chief of hepatology at Rush University Medical Center.
Nancy Reau, MD, section chief of hepatology at Rush University Medical Center, talks about what factors may have contributed to a recent uptick in hospitalizations for alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver.
What contributed to the 23% increase in patient hospitalizations for alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver in the past year?
Alcoholic cirrhosis has definitely been increasing. We recognized this during the pandemic where one of the most frequent hospitalizations for a younger population was alcoholic hepatitis (AH). Unfortunately, when people present with [AH], a good proportion of them will already have established cirrhosis. This is especially true of those that have more severe [AH]. If your AH wasn't severe enough to lead to a hospitalization, you might recover more smoothly. If your AH led to a hospitalization, especially a prolonged one, then you are very likely to recover to cirrhosis. And then a person who has cirrhosis, you're more likely to have complications.
I think that part of this is the pandemic, part of it is pathologic drinking patterns, part of it is a combination of concomitant fatty liver and sedentary lifestyle, which definitely makes alcohol injury a little bit worse. And we are starting to see this peak as people start to be introspective and realize that unhealthy behaviors need to change. They still haven't leveled off, so we're seeing that uptick still in hospitalizations.