To curb alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD), alcohol consumption should be avoided among those with underlying obesity, chronic hepatitis C infection, hepatitis B virus infection, or a history of gastric bypass, according to a new clinical guideline from the American College of Gastroenterology.
In addition, health systems need to overcome barriers to treating alcohol use disorder (AUD) and commit to creating a multidisciplinary care model with behavioral interventions and pharmacotherapy for patients.
Experts were convened to develop these guidelines because it was “imperative to provide an up-to-date, evidence-based blueprint for how to care for patients, as well as guide prevention and research efforts in the field of ALD for the coming years,” said the first author, Loretta Jophlin, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition and medical director of liver transplantation at the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
“In recent years, perhaps fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol use has been normalized in an increasing number of situations,” she said. “Drinking was normalized as a coping mechanism to deal with many of the sorrows we experienced during the pandemic, including loss of purposeful work and social isolation, and many more people are struggling with AUD. So many aspects of our culture have been inundated by the presence of alcohol use, and we need to work hard to denormalize this, first focusing on at-risk populations.”
The guideline was published in the January issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
Updating ALD Recommendations
With ALD as the most common cause of advanced hepatic disease and a frequent indicator of eventual liver transplantation, the rising incidence of alcohol use during the past decade has led to rapid growth in ALD-related healthcare burdens, the guideline authors wrote.
In particular, those with ALD tend to present at an advanced stage and progress faster, which can lead to progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. This can include alcohol-associated hepatitis (AH), which often presents with a rapid onset or worsening of jaundice and can lead to acute or chronic liver failure.
To update the guideline, Jophlin and colleagues analyzed data based on a patient-intervention-comparison-outcome format, resulting in 34 key concepts or statements and 21 recommendations.
Among them, the authors recommended screening and treating AUD with the goal of helping patients who have not yet developed significant liver injury and preventing progression to advanced stages of ALD, particularly among at-risk groups who have had an increasing prevalence of severe AUD, including women, younger people, and Hispanic and American Indian patients.
“So many patients are still told to ‘stop drinking’ or ‘cut back’ but are provided no additional resources. Without offering referrals to treatment programs or pharmacologic therapies to assist in abstinence, many patients are not successful,” Jophlin said. “We hope these guidelines empower providers to consider selected FDA-approved medications, well-studied off-label therapies, and non-pharmacologic interventions to aid their patients’ journeys to abstinence and hopefully avert the progression of ALD.”
In addition, the guidelines provide recommendations for AH treatment. In patients with severe AH, the authors offered strong recommendations against the use of pentoxifylline and prophylactic antibiotics, and in support of corticosteroid therapy and intravenous N-acetyl cysteine as an adjuvant to corticosteroids.
Liver transplantation, which may be recommended for carefully selected patients, is being performed at many centers but remains relatively controversial, Jophlin said.
“Questions remain about ideal patient selection as center practices vary considerably, yet we have started to realize the impacts of relapse after transplantation,” she said. “The guidelines highlight the knowns and unknowns in this area and will hopefully serve as a catalyst for the dissemination of centers’ experiences and the development of a universal set of ethically sound, evidence-based guidelines to be used by all transplant centers.”
Jophlin and colleagues noted the importance of policy aimed at alcohol use reduction, multidisciplinary care for AUD and ALD, and additional research around severe AH.
“As a practicing transplant hepatologist and medical director of a liver transplant program in the heart of Bourbon country, I am a part of just one healthcare team experiencing ALD, particularly AH, as a mass casualty event. Healthcare teams are fighting an unrelenting fire that the alcohol industry is pouring gasoline on,” Jophlin said. “It is imperative that healthcare providers have a voice in the policies that shape this preventable disease. We hope these guidelines inspire practitioners to explore our influence on how alcohol is regulated, marketed, and distributed.”
Additional interventions and public policy considerations could help reduce alcohol-related morbidity and mortality at a moment when the characteristics of those who present with AUD appear to be evolving.
“The typical person I’m seeing now is not someone who has been drinking heavily for decades. Rather, it’s a young person who has been drinking heavily for many months or a couple of years,” said James Burton, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and medical director of liver transplantation at the University of Colorado Hospital’s Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado.
Burton, who wasn’t involved with the guideline, noted it’s become more common for people to drink multiple alcoholic drinks per day for multiple times per week. Patients often don’t think it’s a problem, even as he discusses their liver-related issues.
“We can’t just keep living and working the way we were 10 years ago,” he said. “We’ve got to change how we approach treatment. We have to treat liver disease and AUD.”
The guideline was supported by several National Institutes of Health grants and an American College of Gastroenterology faculty development grant. The authors declared potential competing interests with various pharmaceutical companies. Burton reported no financial disclosures.
Carolyn Crist is a health and medical journalist who reports on the latest studies for Medscape, MDedge, and WebMD.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/new-acg-guideline-offers-recommendations-alcohol-associated-2024a10001t3?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-01-25 10:47:35
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