Up to one-third of adults in the United States have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A leading cause of chronic liver disease, NAFLD appears to increase the risk of heart disease independent of diabetes and high blood pressure. A fat-afflicted liver releases inflammatory compounds and other substances that might promote fatty buildup within the arteries (atherosclerosis) and make blood more likely to clot, both of which may boost the risk of heart attack and stroke. Exercise (even without weight loss) can improve NAFLD; so can a healthy diet and medications such as cholesterol-lowering statins.
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