Diabetes Association Updates Liver Disease Screening Guidelines

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June 26, 2023 -- The American Diabetes Association has updated its guidelines to call for increased screening for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in all adults with Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

About 70% of people with Type 2 diabetes have liver disease, the ADA said in a news release, with NAFLD being the most common form. 

NAFLD, which includes nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death, the ADA said in the news release.

“Liver disease is increasingly being recognized as a major complication of diabetes,” Robert Gabbay, MD, the ADA’s chief scientific and medical officer said. “ADA is committed to preventing and curing diabetes, a complex, chronic illness that requires continuous medical care. For more than 30 years, ADA has been actively involved in the development of clinical practice recommendations that clinicians, researchers, health plans, policymakers, and others can rely on to guide diabetes care.”

Besides early detection, the update emphasizes ways to manage patients with liver disease. 

Adults who are overweight or obese with Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes and NAFLD should consider treatments that include lifestyle changes, weight loss, and exercise programs, the ADA said, according to a story about the guidelines in HPC News. Medications could also help. 

The ADA update also endorsed the use of teplizumab (Tzield) for delaying the onset of Type 1 diabetes, HPC News reported. Last November, the FDA approved the drug as the first treatment to delay the start of insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetes.