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Love Your Live Campaign - 18 November

Newsdate: 4 November 2015

EARLY LIVER TESTS COULD SAVE THOUSANDS OF LIVES

The British Liver Trust’s seventh annual Love Your Liver campaign is coming to Wigan Life Centre South site, College Avenue, Wigan WN1 1NJ and the charity will be offering members of the public the chance to have liver screening to assess their risk of liver disease. A limited number of Fibroscans (non-invasive liver scans) will be also be available on the day, supported by clinicians from The Royal Albert & Edward Infirmary (Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust). The British Liver Trust is a UK charity highlighting the dramatic increase in liver deaths - a 400% increase in the last 40 years - and calling for the government to support universal liver health screening in primary care and a specific national liver health prevention campaign.

The epidemic of liver disease in the UK is a ticking time bomb the government and society cannot afford to ignore. Within the next 10 years costs to the NHS are predicted to escalate to over £1billion a year if no action is taken. The nation is in the grip of an obesity ‘epidemic’, due in part to unhealthy diets and inactive lifestyle choices. As we continue to accept excessive daily alcohol consumption the situation is urgent. Much more also needs to be done to improve testing, immunisation and care for people with viral hepatitis.

Liver disease is often not detected until the late stages, leading to a high mortality rate, currently more than 40 people a day die from liver disease. By investing in awareness and screening through GP surgeries, costs could be slashed on a local and national level.

Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, comments: “The British Liver Trust’s Love Your Liver campaigns have now tested over 1,500 people, and 21% of those who had a Fibroscan ultrasound scan were found to have signs of damage. If caught at an early stage, simple lifestyle changes or treatments can be enough for the liver to recover; early screening and diagnosis are vital.”

The British Liver Trust is calling for:

  • Greater focus on GPs and primary care staff speaking to their patients about alcohol consumption, diet and exercise and risks of viral hepatitis so that patients who are at risk can be made aware and appropriate action taken.
  • Early liver screening and testing, to be provided for anyone at risk of liver disease.

Andrew Langford adds: “If we do nothing, we will continue to see ever increasing rates of liver damage and early death. The average age of death from liver disease is 57, that’s over 20 years lower than deaths from cancer, stroke and heart disease – liver disease is now the third most common cause of premature death.

Most people think that a couple of glasses of wine or a few pints of beer a night or a couple of takeaways a week won’t do much harm – when in fact drinking even just a bit too much alcohol every day and eating unhealthy food are major contributing factors for liver damage. We are all affected differently and the symptoms are almost undetectable in many cases until it is too late. This is a serious health situation. Thousands of lives could be saved if we invest in early diagnosis.”

The British Liver Trust’s campaign message is to take three simple steps to good liver health:

1. Take two to three days off alcohol per week and drink within safe limits when you do
2. Take regular exercise and eat healthily
3. Reduce your risk of viral hepatitis

To support people wanting to assess the health of their livers, the British Liver Trust has developed an online screener that acts as an early warning system. The screener, which can be found on the campaign website at www.loveyourliver.org.uk, takes just 5 minutes to complete and helps people to understand if they are in danger of liver damage, giving encouragement to make any changes needed and approach their GP. 

Screening will be available at the pop up liver health clinic at Wigan Life Centre South. The charity is also looking for volunteers to help on the day, if you are interested please email laura.talbot@britishlivertrust.org.uk.

Please note the clinic will be run on a first come first served basis, advance bookings are not possible.