The past decade has seen a nearly 40 percent increase in the prevalence of cirrhosis among people with hepatitis C in the U.S., a new study found. The reasons remain uncertain, however.

The study, titled “Hepatitis C Complications: Prevalence and Disparities in a Large US Cohort 2006-2014” (abstract #180) was presented at The Liver Meeting 2016, held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).

Cirrhosis has long been linked to hepatitis C, but to what extent had been uncertain. To find out, a team led by Stuart C. Gordon, MD, and others analyzed the prevalence of cirrhosis; decompensated cirrhosis — the development of jaundice, ascites, variceal hemorrhage, or hepatic encephalopathy — and the incidence of death among 11,169 American hepatitis C patients between 2006 and 2014.

The team assessed the annual change in percentage between several different points in time to identify trends in prevalence.

Cirrhosis was found to be more prevalent among hepatitis C patients in 2014, when it was at 28.5 percent, than in 2006 (20.5 percent), with the highest increase seen from 2006 to 2007.

The prevalence of decompensated cirrhosis varied according to the age of patients and increased by about 2 percent a year, but the increase was seen only in patients over age 60. It remained fairly steady in younger patients.

 

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