SAN ANTONIO, Texas. (KFSN) --It's a condition that most Americans have never heard of and now experts say as many as one in three of us may be at risk. Fatty liver disease is on the rise. Here's more on the condition and the continued search for an effective treatment for this gradual killer.
"I didn't have any symptoms," said Leticia Ortega.
Ortega may not have had symptoms, but she did in fact have fatty liver disease, a serious disease where excess fat accumulates in the liver.
Douglas Denham, DO, the medical director of Clinical Trials of Texas, explained, "When the fat accumulates in the cell that causes damage to the structure cell and how it functions." (Read Full Interview)
Like Ortega, people with fatty liver disease don't have symptoms. Still there are factors that can lead to fatty liver, including obesity.
Dr. Denham detailed, "You may be getting a little increased girth, but you're not gonna have liver pain. Those kinds of symptoms are the kinds of things that don't show up until cirrhosis, the end stage of this kind of thing."
The disease is also more prevalent in Hispanics, who are genetically predisposed to it. Diagnosing fatty liver disease takes an invasive biopsy to determine if the liver is storing too much fat.
"We don't have a treatment for this disease, yet," Dr. Denham told Ivanhoe.
Dr. Denham is currently testing a new oral medication that could treat fatty liver disease. Until a medication is approved, he said people can lower their risk by keeping at a healthy weight. If you think you are at risk, talk to your doctor.
Dr. Denham said, "As a patient, take the bull by the horns and ask those questions."
Those are questions that could save your life.
There are several clinical trials currently underway for treatment of fatty liver disease.