S4-6.2 – Mapping Fatty Liver in Australia: Prevalence and Subpopulations

S4-6.2 - Mapping Fatty Liver in Australia: Prevalence and Subpopulations
The podcast heads Down Under as Louise Campbell hosts this week’s surf with Brisbane-based guest, Tony Rahman. In this conversation they discuss NAFLD and NASH subpopulations in Australia, and innovative approaches to providing for a large number of rural patients.

In an introduction to Fatty Liver in Australia, Louise Campbell is joined by Tony Rahman, Director of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane and Adjunct Professor in the College of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University. This conversation starts with Louise asking about the prevalence and composition of Australia’s Fatty Liver population.

Specifically, she wonders what percent of this group are Aboriginal peoples. Tony suggests that while the data is scarce, an ongoing project on diabetes with James Cook University has recruited a cohort of First Nations patients. Within this cohort, it has been determined that instances of Fatty Liver disease are “moderately high.” He expands focus to the whole of Australia, citing the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which reports an alarming rise in prevalence. The country is estimated to skyrocket from a quarter of the population having NAFLD to as high as 40% by 2030. Tony casts doubt on the accuracy of these numbers and suggests that prevalence is likely to be much higher already due to rates of obesity.

Louise notes that during her most recent visit to Australia, she found high liver fat in roughly one-third of an 80-person cohort that came from “relatively high socioeconomic background” and considered itself “relatively fit and healthy.” More alarming to her, all of the 9% of patients with elevated liver stiffening were postmenopausal women.

The remainder of the conversation focuses on a program Tony contributes to called Heart of Australia, the country’s first mobile medical program delivering specialist services to regional and remote communities. He explains the inception of the initiative and how he helped to introduce FibroScan as a part of its services. Again, this program focuses on roughly 7 million people – 28% of Australia’s population – who live in rural or remote areas. The session concludes with Louise’s comments on the importance of delivering health care solutions to these populations by expanding accessibility to services and promoting education on liver health.

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