New findings from this year’s Obesity Week (yes, that’s a real conference) suggest obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is linked to Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), among other liver conditions.
So what is NASH? It’s a common, often “silent” liver disease that resembles alcoholic liver disease, but surprisingly occurs in people who drink little to no alcohol. Sound nasty? That’s because it is. NASH’s major feature is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage to the liver tissue. Most people with NASH feel well and are unaware of the problem. However, NASH is serious—it can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly. NASH has become more common in the U.S. Numerous studies have shown that obesity numbers in America are through the roof .
Now back to the study. Dr. Kathleen E. Corey presented findings that linked OSA to NASH, along with elevated aminotransferase levels, hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis. From 2010-2013, Corey and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital studied 213 adults enrolled for gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy for weight loss to determine their liver histology and whether they had OSA. Researchers used positive sleep studies and CPAP use to determine the presence of OSA. They used multivariable regression modeling to evaluate the link between OSA and liver histology.
What Corey and her colleagues found was not good. First off, patients with OSA tended to be older white males with diabetes. If that’s you—run; don’t walk to our online store.
The other bad news? Sleep Apnea was associated with NASH, steatosis, lobular inflammation, and fibrosis. What’s worse? The relationship remained after adjusting for age, sex, race, and diabetes. Advanced fibrosis was only observed in patients with sleep apnea.
Despite findings, researchers say, “further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of OSA treatment on NASH.” Fair enough, but here are some tips to reduce your likelihood of getting NASH.
- Reduce your weight (if you’re obese or overweight)
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Increase physical activity
- If you think you might have sleep apnea, get tested! At Easy Breathe, our at-home sleep apnea test let’s you get tested from the comfort of your own bed at a fraction of the price compared to a sleep lab
- If you have sleep apnea, keep up with your product maintenance