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Healthcare

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Liver cirrhosis is the result of end-stage liver fibrosis which results from a thickening of connective tissue in the liver as well as liver scarring, according to Oxford Dictionaries (Fibrosis). In comparison,  an article in Nursing Times describes liver cirrhosis as the result of scar tissue development inside the liver (Nursing Times). Medical studies show that the liver has the ability to regenerate itself through a cellular process that stimulates regrowth and restoration (Michalopoulos). In the case of cirrhosis, the liver is unable to regenerate itself due to extensive and prolonged disease. This leaves room for fibrosis development (Nursing Times).

Prevalence

Cirrhosis of the liver is a global health concern of which the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports is responsible for an average of 18.2 percent of deaths attributed to liver disease, worldwide over the past two decades. Cirrhosis of the liver also accounts for approximately 4 percent of the totality of all disease in the world. Additionally, percentages of liver disease cases, including cirrhosis, are rising with a 121 percent increase for women and a 68 percent increase for men over the past 20 years, as reported by the ONS. It is estimated that approximately 35,000 people die from liver cirrhosis in the United States each year (Sargent). Moreover, Nursing Times reports that liver cirrhosis accounted for nearly 800 deaths, in people 25-44 years of age, in 2000 (500 men and 300 women, respectively).

Causes

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), chronic hepatitis C and heavy alcoholic beverage drinking are the main causes of liver cirrhosis. These two causes account for a significant number of liver cirrhosis cases. Heavy, daily alcohol consumption damages the liver over time, and leads to liver cirrhosis. In addition, the hepatitis C virus causes liver inflammation which damages the liver and also leads to cirrhosis. In relation to this, it is significant to note that the hepatitis B and D viruses, as well as an autoimmune hepatitis virus, are also risk factors for developing liver cirrhosis. Obesity is also a common cause of liver cirrhosis, due to fatty liver disease where fat build-up in the liver eventually leads to cirrhosis. Other causes include disease of the bile ducts, drugs, toxins, infections, and heredity diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and Wilson’s disease (NDDIC).

Complications and Lifestyle

People with liver cirrhosis are as risk for severe complications due to the progressive nature of the disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, these complications include portal hypertension (elevated blood pressure within the liver), lower extremity edema (swelling in the legs), ascites (swelling in the abdomen), infections, hemorrhaging, malnutrition, hepatic encephalopathy (blood toxins), jaundice, and elevated liver cancer risks (Mayo Clinic Staff).

With these types of complications, it is safe to assume that the quality of life of people with liver cirrhosis is challenging, as such chronic health issues likely cause increased physical limitations, as well as emotional and mental anxieties. In addition, the effects of these liver disease complications are likely to precipitate other health problems in a systemic fashion. For example, lower extremity edema can result in neuropathy in the feet or hemorrhaging can result in anemia, as seen in a 2006 case study reported by Clinical Diabetes Journal (Anderson).

Conclusion

Liver cirrhosis is a serious complication of severe liver disease, as a result to chronic liver damage over a number of years. Liver damage from cirrhosis is an irreversible condition; however, if diagnosed early further damage to the liver is avoided. This is imperative, as continued liver cirrhosis progression results in fatal outcomes, due to the liver not being able to function.

 

References

Anderson, J. E. A Patient With Type 2 Diabetes and Cirrhosis of the Liver. January 2006. American Diabetes Association. Web. 23 February 2013. <http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/24/1/43.full>.

Fibrosis. 2013. Web. 23 February 2013. <http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/fibrosis>.

Mayo Clinic Staff. Cirrhosis. 2012. Web. 23 February 2013. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cirrhosis/DS00373>.

Michalopoulos, G. K. “Liver Regeneration.” Journal of Cellular Physiology 213.2 (2007): 286-300. Print. 23 February 2013.

NDDIC. Cirrhosis. 21 February 2012. Web. 23 February 2013. <http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/#cause>.

Nursing Times. “Liver cirrhosis.” NursingTimes.net 10 December 2002: 32. Print. 23 February 2013.

Sargent, S. “Management of patients with advanced liver cirrhosis.” Nursing Standard 21.11 (2006): 48-56. Print. 23 February 2013.