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Steatotic liver disease-associated all-cause/cause-specific mortality in the United States.

BACKGROUND: Recently, a panel of multi-society experts proposed steatotic liver disease (SLD) as an alternative terminology for metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

AIMS: We compared the impact of SLD, subtype of SLD, MAFLD and NAFLD on all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

METHODS: A total of 7811 individuals in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and linked mortality through 2019 were analysed. SLD was defined based on ultrasonographic hepatic steatosis. SLD, subtype of SLD and MAFLD were defined using the proposed definitions. The Cox proportional hazard model assessed all-cause/cause-specific mortality.

RESULTS: During a median follow-up of 27.1 years, individuals with SLD and MAFLD experienced approximately 13%-23% higher risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.15, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02-1.29 for SLD; HR: 1.23, 95% CI: 1.09-1.38 for MAFLD; HR: 1.13, 95% CI: 1.01-1.27 for metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease [MASLD]). Individuals with MetALD demonstrated a higher risk of all-cause (HR: 1.68, 95% CI: 1.10-2.57) and cancer-related mortality (HR: 2.40, 95% CI: 1.23-4.66). MASLD with advanced fibrosis had an increased risk of all-cause mortality compared to MASLD without advanced fibrosis.

CONCLUSIONS: SLD, especially MASLD and MetALD, is associated with increased all-cause mortality among adults in the US. Given this significant association between SLD or subtype of SLD (MASLD and MetALD) and all-cause mortality, adopting the proposed SLD criteria may help identify a sub-group of individuals with SLD who are at an increased risk for all-cause mortality.

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