London is in the grip of a health epidemic that threatens the lives of thousands of people, most of whom may be completely unaware that they are even ill.
This is the stark warning being issued by the British Liver Trust as it brings its ‘Love Your Liver’ Campaign to the capital.
London is currently experiencing a year-on-year increase in the number of hospital admissions due to liver disease. Over 10,000 Londoners were admitted to hospital for liver disease in 2014/15 alone, and the rate of premature deaths in the capital due to hepatitis B is more than double the rate for England as a whole.
Risks to liver health include alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis. Unfortunately, London has a higher than average number of young people classed as overweight.
The British Liver Trust’s is urging all Londoners to be aware of the risks to liver health, and for everyone to ‘Love Your Liver’.
Anyone concerned about their liver health is welcome to have a free liver-health check on Friday 18 November when the charity will be visiting east London. Those who attend can take part by completing the Trust’s online ‘At Risk’ screening questionnaire and everyone will receive expert advice on how to keep their liver healthy (www.loveyourliver.org.uk). People found to be at risk of poor liver health may also have the opportunity to receive a free, non-invasive liver scan.
The event is free to attend and will be at Dagenham Library, 1 Church Elm Lane RM10 9QS on Friday 18 November between 10am and 4pm. The Trust has partnered with Queen’s Hospital Romford, and Hepatology Nurse Specialists from Queen’s will be on hand to offer expert advice.
As an area, Barking and Dagenham has the highest rate of premature deaths from liver disease, per head of population, across London. It resulted in 89 premature deaths in Barking and Dagenham in 2013-2015, of which a third were due to alcohol related liver disease and ten percent to non-alcohol related fatty liver disease or to hepatitis B or C related end-stage liver disease. Sadly, most of these deaths could have been prevented with increased awareness and earlier diagnosis.
Louise Payaniandy, Hepatology Nurse Specialist at Queens Hospital said:
“We are delighted to be working with the British Liver Trust to raise awareness of the need to look after your liver. This is an excellent opportunity to offer free screening and advice about this very important health issue.”
Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, said:
“Liver disease is a silent killer and many people don’t realise that they have a problem until it is too late. I hope as many people will attend our event in Dagenham as possible. If you are unable to attend you can still find out if you are at risk by taking the online screener on our website.”
“The liver is just as vital an organ as the heart, but people often fail to appreciate the importance of keeping it healthy. As part of my work I come across many patients who have suffered serious liver damage not just through obvious alcohol addiction but through regular heavy drinking which has become normal to them.
“I also see people whose liver problems have simply come from being overweight and having a poor diet – that’s why we need to help people understand how to ‘Love Your Liver’ by making the right lifestyle choices and encouraging anyone who is or has been at risk of damaging their liver to have it checked.”
Liver disease is largely preventable. More than 90% is due to three main risk factors: alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis. The British Liver Trust’s ‘Love Your Liver’ campaign focuses on three simple steps to Love Your Liver back to health:
- Drink within recommended limits and have three consecutive days off alcohol every week
- Cut down on sugar, carbohydrates and fat and take more exercise
- Know the risk factors for viral hepatitis and get tested or vaccinated if at risk
These simple steps help the liver to keep functioning at its best.
The Trust provides support and detailed information for anyone with, or affected by a liver condition. For more information, or to take the online ‘Love Your Liver’ health screener, visit www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/liver-information