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Spotting early liver disease in primary care

Liver disease
With deaths from liver disease on the rise, Rachel Pryke advises on prevention as well as early detection

Awareness of liver disease has grown dramatically in recent years. This reflects increasing incidence and mortality from hepatic disease, in contrast to improving mortality rates for other chronic diseases. Figure 1 illustrates the increase in liver deaths between 1980 and 2012. It shows a rapid rise, particularly in alcohol-related deaths, mirroring changing patterns in alcohol consumption and changes to the relative cost of alcohol.1

Primary care nurses are very well‑placed to promote prevention approaches as well as the care of patients with liver disease. Because the disease shares similar risk factors with other comorbidities, many at-risk patients are already known in their practices.

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