The prevalence of liver disease in Australia is estimated to be 6 million and this is set to continue to increase over the next 15 years and beyond. Healthcare professionals know that with an increase in liver disease there will be an increase of patients with cirrhosis.
Hepatic encephalopathy presents occurs as a result of cirrhosis – severe liver disease. Severe onset often causes extreme personality changes, confusion, confused speech, anxiety and lethargy in patients and can develop into coma and even death.
This debilitating decline in brain function not only has a major effect on prognosis and quality life of patients, it also has an impact on families and the health care system, yet little is understood about this disease and its effects on the body and brain.
Dr Tony Rahman is studying hepatic encephalopathy in a bid to better understand the underlying causes and development of this disease, which, in turn, will improve clinician’s ability to reach a diagnosis and potentially treatment and patient outcomes in future.