(RxWiki News) Using blood tests to detect liver disease could help predict stroke in at-risk patients, according to a study out of Toronto.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat accumulates in the livers of people who drink little or no alcohol. The fat itself does not cause a problem, but some people develop complications in which liver cells are damaged and scarring can occur. NAFLD affects 20 percent of adults and almost 5 percent of children. Obesity is a leading cause of the condition.
Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Stroke affects 795,000 people each year, claiming more than 137,000 lives.
A recent link has been made between fatty liver disease and stroke. Enzymes present in adults who suffered an acute stroke pointed to possible liver disease.
The study suggests that blood liver enzyme tests could be used in the future to predict stroke in at-risk patients. Since non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually shows no symptoms, it is important to screen people who are likely to experience complications. Obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes can all contribute to NAFLD.
Additional research is necessary to determine whether or not blood tests for liver disease will be a viable option to predict stroke.