Chronic liver disease among Alaska-Native people, 2003-2004

Gayle E Fischer, Stephanie P Bialek, Chriss E Homan, Stephen E Livingston, Brian J McMahon
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2009, 104 (2): 363-70

OBJECTIVES: A higher proportion of deaths among American-Indian/Alaska-Native (AI/AN) people has been attributed to chronic liver disease (CLD) compared with other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. The objectives of this study were to determine CLD prevalence and to define its etiologies and complications among AN and AI people, who received health care from an urban hospital center.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, cross-sectional study of AN and AI people > or =18 years old who had at least one patient encounter at the Alaska Native Medical Center during January 2003-December 2004.

RESULTS: A total of 1,886 (7.2%) of 26,166 AI/AN people met criteria for having CLD. The most commonly identified etiologies were alcohol-related liver disease (42%), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (31%), chronic hepatitis C virus infection (26%), and chronic hepatitis B virus infection (8%). Compared with women, men had a higher overall prevalence of CLD (81.9 vs. 64.7 per 1,000), but were less likely to die from a CLD-related cause (1.5 vs. 2.7 per 1,000). These differences in the CLD deaths were mostly attributed to alcohol-related liver disease.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first known population-based study to examine the burden and etiology of CLD among AN people. Causes of CLD were similar among AI/AN people as those reported among other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Identifying specific etiologies of CLD among populations can help target appropriate prevention and treatment strategies as they are specific to the causes of CLD.

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