The rising prevalence of chronic liver disease is contributing to higher rates of cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. GPs can share the increasing burden with specialist services by recognising chronic liver disease, assessing its severity, managing risk factors and comorbidities and referring appropriately. Two of the four most prevalent chronic liver diseases are discussed in this article, namely nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic liver disease.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is by far the most common chronic liver disease in Australia, accounting for about 90% of cases. Chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C and alcoholic liver disease are the next most common.
- Alcoholic liver disease is the most common cause of hospitalisation and mortality from advanced liver disease.
- The rising prevalence of chronic liver disease contributes to increasing rates of cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
- In patients with NAFLD, the leading cause of mortality is cardiovascular disease.
- It is essential to recognise risk factors for liver disease in order to diagnose patients and then assess and manage them to prevent disease progression.
- Patients with advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis of any cause should be referred to a liver specialist.
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