Preventive strategies in chronic liver disease: part I. Alcohol, vaccines, toxic medications and supplements, diet and exercise.Am Fam Physician 2001; 64(9):1555-60AF
Chronic liver disease is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Hepatitis C virus infection is the most frequent cause of chronic liver disease and the most common indication for liver transplantation. Preventive care can significantly reduce the progression of liver disease. Alcohol and hepatitis C virus are synergistic in hastening the development of cirrhosis; therefore, patients with hepatitis C infection should abstain from alcohol use. Because superinfection with hepatitis A or B virus can lead to liver failure, vaccination is recommended. Potentially hepatotoxic medications should be used with caution in patients with chronic liver disease. In general, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided; acetaminophen in a dosage below 2 g per day is the safest choice. Many herbal remedies are potentially hepatotoxic, and only milk thistle can be used safely in patients who have chronic liver disease. Weight reduction and exercise can improve liver function in patients with fatty liver.