Data from Digestive Disease Week - Curated by EPG Health - Date added 21 May 2019

Results presented at Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2019 have suggested there are identifiable and modifiable risk factors that might prevent liver disease, which should be the subject of further research.

In the face of this alarming trend, that may see U.S., mortality rates due to cirrhosis is increasing dramatically, with rates expected to triple by the year 2030, physicians are seeking to  define the optimal type and intensity of physical activity to prevent adverse outcomes in patients at risk for cirrhosis.

Tracey Simon, MD, lead researcher on the study and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston found that walking and strength training may decrease the risk of dying from liver disease.

Physical activity, including walking and muscle-strengthening activities, were associated with significantly reduced risk of cirrhosis-related death.

With chronic liver disease on the increase, partly due to the obesity epidemic, there are currently no guidelines for the optimal type of exercise for the prevention of cirrhosis-related mortality.

“The benefit of exercise is not a new concept, but the impact of exercise on mortality from cirrhosis and from liver cancer has not yet been explored on this scale. Our findings show that both walking and strength training contribute to substantial reductions in risk of cirrhosis-related death, which is significant because we know very little about modifiable risk factors.”

Dr. Simon and her team prospectively followed 68,449 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 48,748 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, without known liver disease at baseline. Participants provided highly accurate data on physical activity, including type and intensity, every two years from 1986 through 2012, which allowed researchers to prospectively examine the association between physical activity and cirrhosis-related death.

Researchers observed that adults in the highest quintile of weekly walking activity had 73 percent lower risk for cirrhosis-related death than those in the lowest quintile. Further risk reduction was observed with combined walking and muscle-strengthening exercises.

Previous research has been limited to studies that assessed physical activity at just one point in time, or studies with very short-term follow-up. This was the first prospective study in a large U.S. population to include detailed and updated measurements of physical activity over such a prolonged period, which allowed researchers to more precisely estimate the relationship between physical activity and liver-related outcomes.

Researchers hope these findings will help provide specific exercise recommendations for patients at risk for cirrhosis and its complications.

About DDW 2019

Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW takes place May 18-21, 2019, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. The meeting showcases more than 5,000 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology. More information can be found at www.ddw.org.

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