Growing numbers of hospital patients are being treated for liver disease due to alcohol abuse, a Dublin specialist has warned. Prof John Crowe, director of the Centre For Liver Disease in the Mater Hospital, revealed the hidden toll of heavy drinking: over a seven-year period, the number of hospital patients discharged after diagnosis with drink-related liver disease went up by 234pc.
He pointed out that statistics showing Irish people are downing more units per head means we are out of step with most other European states, where consumption is falling.
"Significantly, the annual advertising spend on sport sponsorship is not available," he added.
"From a medical perspective, the effects of excess alcohol consumption can be divided into acute and long-term injury."
A&E departments are left to cope with patients suffering coma, physical injury, self harm including suicide attempts, psychiatric disturbance and withdrawal syndromes due to alcohol abuse.
"Between 1995 and 2002, annual alcohol-related admission and discharges increased from 9,254 to 17,378, which is a 92pc rise.
"Significantly, the discharge diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease has increased by 234pc, from 705 cases in 1995 to a total of 1,745 in 2004.
"This increase is highly significant because it illustrates the emerging burden of chronic alcoholic liver injury that exists within the community," he wrote in the Irish Medical Times. It usually remains undetected until significant complications leading to irreversible liver damage has occurred.
His own experience in the Matter has shown that internal hospital referrals of patients with advanced alcoholic liver disease increased from six cases in 1996 to 114 in 2006. Men outnumber women by two to one and the average age is 50 years.
Over the same time, discharges with a diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis rose by nearly 300%.
source: Independent ie, http://www.independent.ie/