Liver disease in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Published by John Elflein, Feb 11, 2019
The liver is a vital organ for digesting food, storing energy, cleaning blood, and fighting infection. The term ‘liver disease’ is used broadly to describe any damage to, or disease of, the liver. Common symptoms of liver disease include nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, yellow colored skin and eyes, dark urine, and weight loss, however symptoms can vary depending on the specific disease or cause of damage. Some of the more common types of liver disease include hereditary diseases, hepatitis, liver cancer, alcoholic liver disease, and cirrhosis.

Liver cirrhosis occurs when healthy liver cells are damaged and replaced with hard scar tissue. As cirrhosis progresses, the liver begins to fail as it lacks healthy tissue. The most common causes of cirrhosis are chronic hepatitis and alcohol abuse. Although the death rate from liver cirrhosis in the U.S. has decreased since the 1970s, it has steadily increased again over the past decade. From 2013 to 2015, there were around 120,300 deaths from liver cirrhosis in the U.S., with alcohol-related cirrhosis accounting for 58,562 of these deaths. As of 2015, the rate of alcohol-related cirrhosis deaths was highest among those aged 55 to 64 years, with around 18.6 deaths per 100,000 population. In that same year, it was calculated that the total cost for hospital stays in the U.S. with a principle diagnosis of alcohol-related cirrhosis was 306 million U.S. dollars for females and 706 million dollars males.

Damage to the liver caused by cirrhosis, alcohol abuse, and hepatitis can also lead to liver cancer. Rates of liver cancer are more common among males than females and are higher among Hispanics than any other race or ethnicity. As of 2014, those diagnosed with liver cancer had a 17 percent chance of surviving 5 years after being diagnosed with the disease. The death rate from liver cancer has steadily increased since the year 2000, rising to a rate of 10.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2016. In that year alone, there were around 26,500 deaths from liver cancer.

Treatment for liver disease depends on the type of disease and cause, but can include changes in lifestyle, such as abstaining from alcohol, medications, and surgery. In the case of liver failure or end-stage chronic liver disease, a liver transplant may be necessary. In 2017, liver transplants were the most common type of organ transplant in the U.S., with around 25 transplants per million inhabitants. However, as of the end of 2018, there were almost 14,000 candidates in the U.S. waiting for a liver transplant.

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Liver disease in the U.S.

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Alcohol-related deaths

Hepatitis

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