Fatty liver disease will become one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest health issues in the coming years according to the AASLD.
The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases identified the issue during their annual meeting which, this year, was held in Jeddah’s IHG Hotel. It pinpointed a poor diet and lack of exercise in the country as the main reasons behind the issue’s growth.
Fatty liver disease is a condition which is almost exclusively seen in people who are overweight or obese. A fully healthy liver should contain almost no fat at all, however in fatty liver disease patients fat starts to develop in the liver.
Early stages of this won’t lead to many issues, but the more that builds up the greater the issue can be. It increases the patient’s risk of heart disease, diabetes and strokes whilst, in some severe cases, can lead to cirrhosis - scarring of the liver.
According to Dr Faisal Aba Alkhail, Section Head of Transplant Hepatology at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, 60% of patients receiving treatment in his hospital for liver conditions will require a transplant - a reduced figure on last year, but a number that is still above the availability of livers for transplant in the country.
Liver conditions are another side effect of the poor lifestyle that is currently the number one factor affecting health in Saudi Arabia. An estimated 29% of the population in the Kingdom have diabetes, with almost 50% classified as overweight or obese.
As we head into 2017 Saudi Arabia continues to face up to its healthcare challenges, with the Saudi Vision 2030 model of world leading healthcare being the aim.
Investment into the healthcare system has been generous, whilst the funding diverted into increasing awareness of lifestyle related health conditions has also been increased.
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