E. J. Gifford, B. Han, S. S. Choi, L. M. Glass, C. A. Moylan, C. M. Hunt, D. Provenzale, M. J. Turner, Y. A. Patel, R. McNeil
With its increasing incidence, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is of particular concern in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
To evaluate risk factors for advanced fibrosis in biopsy-proven NAFLD in the VHA, to identify patients at risk for adverse outcomes.
In randomly selected cases from VHA databases (2005-2015), we performed a retrospective case-control study in adults with biopsy-defined NAFLD or normal liver.
Of 2091 patients reviewed, 399 met inclusion criteria. Normal controls (n = 65) had normal liver function. The four NAFLD cohorts included: NAFL steatosis (n = 76), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) without fibrosis (n = 68), NAFLD/NASH stage 1-3 fibrosis (n = 82), and NAFLD/NASH cirrhosis (n = 70). NAFLD with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was separately identified (n = 38). Most patients were older White men. NAFLD patients with any fibrosis were on average severely obese (BMI>35 kg/m2). Diabetes (54.4%-79.6%) and hypertension (85.8%-100%) were more common in NAFLD with fibrosis or HCC. Across NAFLD, 12.3%-19.5% were enrolled in diet/exercise programs and 0%-2.6% had bariatric surgery. Hispanics exhibited higher rates of NASH (20.6%), while Blacks had low NAFLD rates (1.4%-11.8%), particularly NAFLD cirrhosis and HCC (1.4%-2.6%). Diabetes (OR 11.8, P < .001) and BMI (OR 1.4, P < .001) were the most significant predictors of advanced fibrosis.
In the VHA, diabetes and severe obesity increased risk for advanced fibrosis in NAFLD. Of these patients, only a small proportion (~20%) had enrolled in diet/exercise programs or had bariatric surgery (~2%). These results suggest that providers should focus/tailor interventions to improve outcomes, particularly in those with diabetes and severe obesity.