Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer in the United States. What few people realize is that, while HCV can be hidden disease, this liver disease can affect your health beyond the liver. Studies have shown a connection between hepatitis C virus and cardiac and metabolic health.
“Hepatitis C virus can affect organs outside the liver,” says Dr. Mitchell Shiffman, Director of the Liver Institute of Virginia. “HCV has been shown to promote kidney disease, skin disorders, diabetes, and now the risk of congestive heart failure. For all these reasons it is important to identify patients with chronic HCV and offer these patients treatment.”
It is estimated that about 4 million people are infected with HCV in the United States and over 130 million people are infected worldwide. The vast majority of HCV patients have not yet been diagnosed and remain untreated. In the United States, the highest prevalence of HCV infection is in the so called ‘Baby Boomers’ generation. As this group gets older, the burden of HCV-related complications is expected to increase tremendously.
HCV is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. One previous study shows that individuals older than 39 years of age who have HCV infection are four times more likely to have diabetes. Another study reports that diabetes is 11 times more common in those infected with HCV than those who were not. In addition to elevated risk of metabolic conditions, chronic HCV may also increase an individual’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. Chronic hepatitis C virus infection has been associated with hypertension and congestive heart failure.
Luckily, according to Dr. Shiffman, approximately 75% of patients with chronic HCV can now be successfully treated and cured limiting their risk of suffering from secondary conditions.
About The Liver Institute of Virginia
The Liver Institute of Virginia is led by Dr. Mitchell Shiffman. Dr. Shiffman holds a Bachelor of Arts from State University of New York at Buffalo, a Master of Science in physiology from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, N.M. and his Doctor of Medicine from State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine and fellowship training in gastroenterology and hepatology at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals in Richmond, VA.
Dr. Shiffman is a member of many professional organizations including: the American College of Gastroenterology, American College of Physicians, the American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Society of Transplantation, European Association for the Study of the Liver, International Liver Transplantation Society, Richmond Academy of Medicine, Virginia Medical Society and the Virginia Gastrointestinal Society. He was a member of the Board of Trustees with the American College of Gastroenterology from 2003-2009. Dr. Shiffman was recently named one of the Best Doctors in America® in a peer-reviewed survey, which ranks him in the top five percent of specialists in the United States.