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Hepatic Encephalopathy in Our Genes?

Jan Albrecht, PhD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Polish Academy of Sciences, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland.


Potential Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed. Forms can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M10-1566.

Requests for Single Reprints: Jan Albrecht, PhD, Department of Neurotoxicology, Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Pawińskiego Street 5, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland; e-mail, jalb@cmdik.pan.pl.


Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(5):335-336. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-5-201009070-00008
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Hepatic encephalopathy is a complex disorder characterized by gradual impairment of the ability to perform mental tasks and to react to external stimuli. It can eventually evolve to coma. Hepatic encephalopathy results from inefficient clearance of toxins, mainly ammonia, from the blood (1). Cirrhosis is the major cause of chronic liver dysfunction and affects 1 million Europeans (2) and 5.5 million Americans (3). In Europe, cirrhosis accounts for 13.7 per 100 000 deaths—only slightly below the rate for pneumonia (15.5 per 100 000 deaths) but higher than that for diabetes (13.4 per 100 000 deaths) or car accidents (9.1 per 100 000 deaths) (2).

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