'Love Your Liver' In Portsmouth

Portsmouth's got one of the highest rates of deaths through liver disease in the country, mainly because people are drinking too much.

Many people in the UK will have liver disease caused by drinking too much alcohol but they won't realise until its too late. Alcohol liver disease can be a silent killer, with no symptoms until significant damage has been done.

Liver disease is on the increase in the UK. Death rates linked to alcoholic liver disease have risen by over two-thirds (69%) in the last 30 years and by 11% since 2005 alone. This makes alcohol one of the most common causes of death, along with smoking and high blood pressure.

Up to one in three adults drinks enough alcohol to create a risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease and the risk of developing the disease is up to 13 times higher in people who drink above guideline levels.

The Portsmouth area has one of the highest rates of deaths from liver cirrhosis, exceeding national averages, and this has been steadily increasing over the last few years. At Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, the number of people admitted with complications of liver cirrhosis has doubled in under 4 years. The vast majority of these cases are related to alcohol.

Thats why NHS Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council have joined forces under the Safer Portsmouth Partnership to launch the Love Your Liver campaign across the city during National Alcohol Awareness Week 2011 (14th November-20th November).

The campaign uses hard-hitting images of a diseased liver to highlight the impact that drinking can have on the body and asks residents to love their liver by reducing their drinking.

The campaign will feature on buses, billboards, and in GP surgeries and pharmacies across the city.

Leaflets containing an alcohol/liver health check will also be available so that residents can assess their own drinking habits and seek support or advice if required.

A Love Your Liver information stand will be held in the main reception of Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham on Monday 14th November with health professionals on site to give advice on safer drinking.

Neighbouring NHS trusts, Southampton and Hampshire, have picked up the campaign and will be displaying the images across Southampton and the the rest of the county too.

Dr Richard Aspinall, Consultant Heptologist at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham said: "Liver disease is often something that creeps up on people without them being aware of it developing.

"Fortunately, most liver diseases can be avoided with simple lifestyle changes such as drinking less alcohol and eating a healthier diet. It's vital to be aware of the safe alcohol limits and to regularly have 2 to 3 alcohol-free days each week"

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, Director of Public Health for Portsmouth said: "It is a mistake to think that you have to be a heavy drinker to run into liver problems. Although it can take as long as 10 to 20 years, drinking just a bit more than guideline amount over time can seriously harm your liver.

"Not feeling any side effects from drinking does not mean that you are not risking chronic ill-health or lasting liver damage from alcohol-related liver disease. Vast numbers of us now fall into this category.

"This campaign is not about asking people to stop drinking altogether, just to be aware of the damage that drinking can do and to reduce their consumption to guideline levels."

Councillor Lynne Stagg, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Chair of the Safer Portsmouth Partnership said:
"I was the Chair of a panel which undertook a major review of alcohol related hospital admissions in Portsmouth earlier this year so I understand the damage that excessive drinking can have on individuals, familes and the community as a whole.

Portsmouth has the highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in the South East – at least 4000 people are admitted each year at an estimated cost of £10 million a year.

Reducing the harm caused by alcohol is one of the top priorities for the city and I fully support this campaign".

Stats from The British Liver Trust 2010 - Alcohol and Portsmouth

* Alcohol - is one of the top priorities for the city - in Portsmouth at least 4000 people a year are admitted to hospital due to their drinking, at an estimated cost of £10 million per year

* An estimated 40,000 Portsmouth residents drink above the recommended guidelines.

* 8,000 of these drink at high-risk levels, with about 7,000 likely to have an alcohol dependency.

* The average male in Portsmouth dies 10.2 months early due to alcohol-related illnesses

Guidelines For Safer Drinking

* Men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units a day

* Women should not regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units a day

* Everyone should have at least two alcohol free days every week.

Put your liver in the spotlight and take our alcohol/liver healthcheck at www.savedave.info.

People concerned about their drinking should contact their GP for advice or visit www.savedave.info

You can get more information about liver disease at www.britishlivertrust.org.uk

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