Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatotic Liver Disease (MASLD)

WHAT IS MASLD?

Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) is the build up of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat. However, if more than 5% - 10% of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is called a fatty liver (steatosis).

Obesity

WHAT IS YOUR LIVER AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

The liver is the second largest organ in your body and is located under your rib cage on the right side. It weighs about three pounds and is shaped like a football that is flat on one side. The liver performs many jobs in your body. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from your blood.

WHO IS LIKELY TO DEVELOP MASLD?

MASLD tends to develop in people who are overweight, obese, have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to MASLD. However, some people develop MASLD even if they do not have any risk factors. MASLD affects up to 25% of people in the United States.

RISKS

MASLD may cause the liver to swell (steatohepatitis). A swollen liver may cause scarring (cirrhosis) over time and may even lead to liver cancer or liver failure.

SYMPTOMS

MASLD often has no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Symptoms become more sever when cirrhosis sets in and may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Spider-like blood vessels
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Itching
  • Fluid build up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites)
  • Mental confusion

HOW IS MASLD DIAGNOSED?

MASLD is initially suspected if blood tests show high levels of liver enzymes. However, other liver diseases are first ruled out through additional tests. Often, an ultrasound is used to confirm the MASLD diagnosis.

  • See a doctor who specializes in the liver regularly
  • Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your liver health
  • Lose weight, if you are overweight or obese
  • Lower your cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Control your diabetes

CAN MASLD BE PREVENTED?

There are ways to prevent MASLD:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Only take medicines that you need and follow dosing recommendations.