Cirrhosis of the Liver

1523 Words Mar 7th, 2007 7 Pages
Cirrhosis is the 11th leading cause of death by disease in the United States. Almost one half of these are alcohol related. About 25,000 people die from cirrhosis each year.

Description/Definition
Cirrhosis is a consequence of chronic liver disease characterized by replacement of normal, healthy liver tissue by fibrotic scar tissue, blocking the flow of blood through the organ and preventing it from working as it should, as well as regenerative nodules leading to progressive loss of liver function. The liver, the largest organ in the body, is vital in keeping the body functioning properly. It removes or neutralizes poisons from the blood, produces immune agents to control infection, and removes germs and bacteria from the blood. It
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But cirrhosis slows the normal flow of blood through the portal vein, which increases the pressure inside.
• Varices – when blood flow through the portal vein slows, blood from the intestines and spleen backs up into blood vessels in the stomach and esophagus. These blood vessels may become enlarged because they are not meant to carry this much blood. The enlarged blood vessels, called varices, have thins walls and carry high pressure, and thus are more likely to burst. If they do burst, the result is a serious bleeding problem in the upper stomach or esophagus.
• Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes – cirrhosis causes resistance to insulin. This hormone, produced by the pancreas, enables blood glucose to be used as energy by the cells of the body. If you have insulin resistance, your muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin properly. The pancreas tries to keep up with the demand for insulin by producing more. Eventually, the pancreas cannot keep up with the body's need for insulin, and Type 2 diabetes develops as excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
• Hepatic Encephalopathy - when the liver does not efficiently function to cleanse the body of toxins and drugs, the mental state of patients may change dramatically and lead to coma, called Hepatic Encephalopathy. Treatment is directed at reducing the protein in the diet, avoiding sedatives and pain medications, and using laxatives and/or

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