Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a range of liver histology severity and outcomes in he absence of chronic alcohol use. The mildest form is simple steatosis in which triglycerides accumulate within hepatocytes. A more advanced form of NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, includes inflammation and liver cell injury, progressive to cryptogenic cirrhosis. NAFLD has become the most common cause of chronic liver disease in children and adolescents. The recent rise in the prevalence rates of overweight and obesity likely explains the NAFLD epidemic worldwide. NAFLD is strongly associated with abdominal obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia, and most patients have evidence of insulin resistance. Thus, NAFLD shares many features of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), a highly atherogenic condition, and this has stimulated interest in the possible role of NAFLD in the development of atherosclerosis. Accumulating evidence suggests that NAFLD is associated with a significantly greater overall mortality than in the general population, as well as with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD), independently of classical atherosclerotic risk factors. Yet, several studies including the pediatric population have reported independent associations between NAFLD and impaired flow-mediated vasodilatation and increased carotid artery intimal medial thickness-two reliable markers of subclinical atherosclerosis-after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and MetS. Therefore, the rising prevalence of obesity-related MetS and NAFLD in childhood may lead to a parallel increase in adverse cardiovascular outcomes. In children, the cardiovascular system remains plastic and damage-reversible if early and appropriate interventions are established effectively. Therapeutic goals for NAFLD should address nutrition, physical activity, and avoidance of smoking to prevent not only end-stage liver disease but also CVD.
- Cardiovascular risk
- Metabolic syndrome
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas