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Causes Of Cirrhosis, Progression Of Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a degenerative liver disease in which the lobes of the liver become infiltrated with fat and fibrous tissue (fibrous tissue is a type of connective tissue composed of protein fibers called collagen). The word "cir rhosis" is derived from the Greek words kirrhos, meaning "yellowish orange" and osis, meaning "condition," and connotates the appearance of the liver of a patient with cirrhosis. The infiltration of these substances within the liver disrupts liver functions, including the conversion of the storage carbohydrate glycogen into glucose; detoxification of drugs and other substances; vitamin absorption; gastrointestinal functions; and hormone metabolism. Because the blood vessels of the liver are affected by fibrous tissue formation, blood flow through the liver is impaired, leading to increased blood pressure within the liver. Impaired blood flow in the liver also causes a condition called esophageal varices, in which blood vessels in the esophagus bleed due to increased blood pressure. In addition, patients with cirrhosis are often weakened by hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

Complications of cirrhosis include coma, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and kidney failure. No definitive treatment for cirrhosis is available besides management of symptoms and complications. The mortality rate of cirrhosis ranges from 40-63%, and it is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States.

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