Multimorbidity and polypharmacy in diabetic patients with NAFLD: Implications for disease severity and management

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Abstract

An observational study describing the number and type of chronic conditions and medications taken by diabetic patients with NAFLD and identifying characteristics that may impact liver disease severity or clinical management.

Adults with type 2 diabetes have a high prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and increased risk of developing advanced liver disease. Appropriate management should consider the characteristics of the diabetic NAFLD population, as comorbid conditions and medications may increase the complexity of treatment strategies.

Diabetic patients with NAFLD at risk of clinically significant liver disease (as assessed by the FIB-4 or NAFLD fibrosis scores) were recruited consecutively from the Endocrine clinic or primary care. Medical conditions, medication history, anthropometric measurements, and laboratory tests were obtained during assessment. NAFLD severity was classified by transient elastography and liver ultrasound into “no advanced disease” (LSM < 8.2 kPa) or “clinically significant liver disease” (LSM ≥ 8.2 kPa).

The most common coexistent chronic conditions were metabolic syndrome (94%), self-reported “depression” (44%), ischaemic heart disease (32%), and obstructive sleep apnoea (32%). Polypharmacy or hyperpolypharmacy was present in 59% and 31% of patients respectively. Elevated LSM (≥ 8.2 kPa) suggesting significant liver disease was present in 37% of this at-risk cohort. Increasing obesity and abdominal girth were both independently associated with likelihood of having significant liver disease.

There is a high burden of multimorbidity and polypharmacy in diabetic NAFLD patients, highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary management to address their complex health care needs and ensure optimal medical treatment.

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