Liver Disease

Liver disease is the only major cause of mortality and morbidity which is on the increase in England while decreasing in European countries. Some of the most common types of liver disease include:

  • Alcohol related liver disease – accounts for over a third of liver disease deaths. The more someone drinks, the higher their risk of developing liver disease.
  • Hepatitis B – this virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood or other body fluids. Infection can lead to chronic disease and during the acute phase of infection the majority of people do not experience symptoms. Hepatitis B vaccines are available and highly effective and immunisation is recommended for high risk groups.
  • Hepatitis C – hepatitis C virus is mainly transmitted through contact with infected blood. Injecting drug use is the most important risk factor for infection within the UK. People with Hepatitis C often do not experience symptoms.  Around 20-30% of infected people clear their infection naturally within the first six months of infection. For the remainder, hepatitis C is a chronic infection which can lead to liver disease and liver cancer
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – obesity is an important risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a term used to describe accumulation of fat within the liver that is not caused by alcohol consumption. It is usually seen in people who are overweight or obese.

Most liver disease deaths are from cirrhosis (a hardening and scarring of the liver) or its complications – people die from liver disease at a young age with 90% under 70 years old and more than 1 in 10 in their 40s. Most liver disease is preventable with only about 5% of deaths are attributable to autoimmune and genetic disorders. Over 90% of cases are due to three main risk factors: alcohol, viral hepatitis and obesity.

  • Liver Disease in Oldham

The under 75 mortality rate from liver disease has remained higher than the England rate throughout the entire period shown in the chart below. For the majority of the time period, it has also remained above the North West average rate. For 2015/17, there were 176 deaths recorded from liver disease in those under 75 in Oldham. 79 of these deaths were from alcoholic liver disease.

Liver Disease Mortality JSNA

This needs assessment for chronic liver disease identifies Oldham’s population need, assesses  levels of service provision and identifies gaps in provision. Although more recent data are now available, the report still contains useful recommendations to enhance the prevention and treatment of chronic liver disease.

  • Further Resources

1. The PHE Local Alcohol Profiles provide a range of information and indicators around alcohol use. They can be found here.