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What is cirrhosis?

Cirrhosis is an irreversible, life-threatening disease of the liver in which normal liver tissue is replaced by non-functioning fibrotic scar tissue and nodules that impede normal blood flow to the liver and normal liver function. It is the third most common cause of death in people ages 45-65, after heart disease and cancer.

Cirrhosis is a disease of the liver. It happens when a liver has been damaged, and can result from excessive alcohol intake. In a liver with cirrhosis, scar tissue replaces healthy cells. The scarred parts of the liver cannot function, and can even block the function of undamaged parts of the liver. Sometimes the progression of cirrhosis can stop when a person makes lifestyle changes.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver slowly deteriorates and malfunctions due to chronic injury. Scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, partially blocking the flow of blood through the liver. Scarring also impairs the liver's ability to do the following:

  • Control infections.
  • Remove bacteria and toxins from the blood.
  • Process nutrients, hormones, and drugs.
  • Make proteins that regulate blood clotting.
  • Produce bile to help absorb fats-including cholesterol-and fat-soluble vitamins.

A healthy liver is able to regenerate most of its own cells when they become damaged. With end-stage cirrhosis, the liver can no longer effectively replace damaged cells. A healthy liver is necessary for survival.

Cirrhosis is the twelfth leading cause of death by disease, accounting for 27,000 deaths each year. The condition affects men more often than women.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver over a period of time, which in turn impedes blood flow in the liver. Cirrhosis is usually caused by chronic hepatitis or excessive alcohol consumption.

Cirrhosis is a consequence of chronic liver disease characterized by the replacement of liver tissue with fibrous scar tissue leading to progressive loss of liver function.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.