How to define cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is a severe form of liver disease wherein normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue (fibrous tissue).
What changes occur in cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis or fibrosis of the liver can occur due to several liver-related diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and excessive alcohol consumption. The replacement of healthy liver tissue with fibrous tissue leads to permanent liver damage, which is characterized by distorted blood flow through the liver and abnormal liver function.
Cirrhosis is a chronic liver condition that is often asymptomatic initially. The signs and symptoms start appearing when the liver is badly damaged. In some severe cases, cirrhosis can even lead to complete liver failure. In 2001, cirrhosis was estimated to be the fourteenth leading cause of death worldwide. With its increasing prevalence, it is likely to move up to the twelfth position by 2020. Adult men over 50 years are more susceptible to cirrhosis.
What causes cirrhosis?
Chronic liver damage due to a variety of diseases and conditions can ultimately lead to cirrhosis. The pathogenesis of cirrhosis can be triggered most commonly by viral hepatitis (hepatitis B, C, and D), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and alcoholic liver disease. Less common causes include genetic conditions such as hemochromatosis, cystic fibrosis, Wilson’s disease, biliary atresia, and glycogen storage disease. In addition, deficiency of a specific liver enzyme, Alpha-1 antitrypsin, can also cause cirrhosis.
Autoimmune diseases of the liver or bile duct, such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis, are other potential contributors to cirrhosis. In addition, Alagille syndrome, which is a genetic disease of abnormal bile duct functioning, can trigger the onset of cirrhosis.
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