The Prevalence of Cirrhosis in Patients with Hepatitis C Is Growing

JANUARY 27, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
hospital medicine, infectious disease, hepatitis C, cirrhosis, liver disease, hepatology, gastroenterologyPatients with chronic hepatitis C can develop cirrhosis, a serious condition characterized by scarring of the liver – but just how many patients actually reach this point?

There’s been an increase in the number of Americans with hepatitis C who also have cirrhosis, according to a study published in the Journal of Hepatology. This prevalence was analyzed both in people who knew that they had the liver infection and those who were unaware.

The researchers pulled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) consisting of 52,644 participants at least 21 years of age. The majority of them were tested for hepatitis C and 725 individuals were diagnosed. Advanced fibrosis was considered greater than 3.25 using Fib-4 and advanced cirrhosis was considered greater than 2.0 using AST to Platelet Ratio Index (APRI). Based on those numbers, the patients were split into groups – Era 1 (1988 – 1994), Era 2 (1999 – 2006), and Era 3 (2007 – 2012). Evaluating the APRI numbers revealed that cirrhosis was present in 6.6% of Era 1, 7.6% of Era 2, and 17% of Era 3. Cirrhosis was found in 11% of patients whether they knew about their infection or not. The researchers explained that the further analysis showed that the era effect could be attributed to factors such as age, diabetes, and obesity. The FIB-4 results, however, were identical across the Eras.

“Patients who were unaware of their infection was just as likely to have cirrhosis as those who knew about their infection, which highlights the need for screening and treatment for hepatitis C at the population level,” the authors confirmed.

Over the past two decades, cirrhosis has become even more prevalent in adults with hepatitis C in the US. If there was ever a time to tackle both conditions, its official here.

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