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Cirrhosis a “silent Killer” in Middle East

Wednesday, July 24, 2019/ Editor -  

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Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Highlights Risk in Advance of World Hepatitis Day

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. July 24, 2019:  Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi are using World Hepatitis Day on July 28 to raise community awareness of cirrhosis, a serious disease, often linked to lifestyle conditions, including viral hepatitis.

Cirrhosis is advanced scarring or fibrosis of the liver, linked to existing conditions such as obesity and type-2 diabetes - which are often associated with fatty liver disease - and chronic viral hepatitis. Cirrhosis is closely linked to rising rates of liver cancer in the Middle East and liver failure due to progression of cirrhosis is the primary reason for liver transplant in the UAE. With effective patient screening, physicians are confident that a large number of cases could be avoided through early detection of chronic liver disease.

“In many cases, by early diagnosis and appropriate intervention, cirrhosis is preventable,” says Dr. Shiva Kumar, Chair of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. 

“Unfortunately, it is sometimes known as the ‘silent killer’ because most people don’t experience any symptoms until it has already caused significant damage to their livers. Millions of people around the world are living with undiagnosed viral hepatitis, and, compounded with skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes, which are associated with fatty liver disease, we can expect to see more and more cirrhosis cases over the next decade 

Cirrhosis damages healthy liver tissue, causing permanent scarring which reduces the liver’s ability to function normally. In the early stages of cirrhosis, there may be very few symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, it can lead to fatigue, weight loss, itchy skin, and jaundice.

While there is no cure for cirrhosis, doctors can work with patients to manage the disease if it is diagnosed in its early stages, preventing it from progressing further. Damage to the liver becomes more significant as the disease progresses, eventually leading to liver failure which can only be treated effectively with a transplant. 

“Although we can work to manage the disease with patients, hopefully avoiding further damage, cirrhosis puts patients at much greater risk of developing liver cancer. Prevention is by far the best medicine; however, if patients do require surgery, we are most fortunate to have some of the safest and most advanced techniques at our disposal,” continues Dr. Kumar. 

Patients requiring surgery for cirrhosis complications, such as cancer or liver failure, at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi can benefit from a comprehensive range of surgical treatments including minimally invasive and robotic surgery. The hospital is the UAE’s sole multi-organ transplant center, having performed the country’s first liver transplant from a deceased donor and the UAE’s first successful living-related donor liver transplant.


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