According to a story from Medical Xpress, a group of researchers from Penn State University have designed a unique clinical trial that aims to measure the impact of exercise on patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a severe form of fatty liver disease. Research suggests that regular exercise can reduce the risk of serious complications such as blood clots, which can prevent patients from getting life-saving interventions such as liver transplant.
About Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a type of liver disease in which fat is deposited in the liver independent of excessive alcohol consumption. This disease can progress rapidly. Risk factors include metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. There also appears to be some genetic component to the disease as well. This condition also increases the risk of other health problems and liver cancer. Men also seem to be at greater risk, getting the disease as almost twice the rate that women do. Symptoms of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis include jaundice, malaise, fatigue, and abdominal pain or discomfort. Without treatment, the liver can become scarred and the patient may need a liver transplant. However, the condition can also be managed with proper diet, the use of certain medications, and exercise. To learn more about nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, click here.
The trial design will consist of two groups of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis patients. One group will undergo aerobic exercise training with a certified instructor for a period of 16 weeks. Meanwhile, the other group will simply continue whatever their normal routine of treatment already was, based on guidance from their physician. The research team hopes to recruit 42 patients for the trial.
The researchers are hoping that the exercise routine will bring down the levels of a certain protein that is known to play a critical role in the formation of harmful blood clots. Other characteristics that will be measured during the trial include liver fat, weight, quality of life, body fat composition, physical fitness, and liver scarring. The findings from this study will be important because many drug interventions are not very effective in treating the illness and side effects can be severe.
Treatment is further hampered by the fact that patients often do not experience symptoms until it is too late to save their livers from failure. Lifestyle interventions like exercise could offer an inexpensive and safer alternative with a potentially major impact.