Submit Manuscript  

Article Details

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) for Primary Care Providers: Beyond the Liver

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 2 ]


Eddison Godinez-Leiva and Fernando Bril*   Pages 94 - 111 ( 18 )


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has consolidated as a major public health problem, affecting ~25% of the global population. This percentage is significantly higher in the setting of obesity and/or type 2 diabetes. The presence of NAFLD is associated with severe liver complications, such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH; i.e., presence of inflammation and necrosis), cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. However, the majority of these patients die of cardiovascular disease. For this reason, management of this condition requires a multidisciplinary team, where primary care providers are at center stage. However, important misconceptions remain among primary care providers, preventing them from appropriately approach these patients. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease should be understood as part of a systemic disease characterized for abnormal accumulation of fat in tissues other than the adipose tissue. This, in turn, produces dysfunction of those organs or tissues (process sometimes referred to as lipotoxicity). Therefore, due to the systemic nature of this condition, it should not surprise that NAFLD is closely related to other metabolic conditions. This review will focus on the extrahepatic manifestations of NAFLD and its metabolic and cardiovascular implications. We believe these are the most important issues primary care providers should understand in order to effectively manage these complicated patients. In addition, we have provided a simple and straightforward approach to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with NAFLD and/or NASH. We hope this review will serve as a guide for primary care providers to approach their patients with NAFLD.


NAFLD, steatohepatitis, NASH, T2DM, insulin resistance, liver.


Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, University of Alabama in Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35233, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, University of Alabama in Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35233

Graphical Abstract:

Read Full-Text article