Traffic light test can show liver damage

PATIENTS visiting GP surgeries across the borough could be offered a new traffic light test which reveals hidden liver damage caused by drinking.

The traffic-light colour-coded blood test could reveal damage caused by excessive drinking earlier than at present say the experts who have devised the test.

The UK doctors who have designed the test say anyone who regularly drinks more than three or four bottles of wine a week, for example, is at significant risk.

Ultimately, GPs could offer the test to patients, especially since many people do not recognise unsafe drinking. And very often damage is only noticed at a late stage as the liver starts to fail. The liver can heal itself to some extent, but repeated onslaught will cause irreparable damage and by the time the patient reaches hospital, the liver can be very scarred.

And even when they stop drinking entirely, in many cases it is too late and they will die of liver complications over the next 12 months.

The traffic-light test can give an early colour-coded warning – green means damage is unlikely, amber means there is a 50:50 chance it is there, and red means the liver is most probably damaged potentially irreversibly.

Dr Kate Ardern Executive Director or Public Health for the Borough of Wigan said: “We already offer free NHS Health Checks for people between 40 years and 75 years of age across the Borough which includes a Drinking Self Assessment Tool to check for the effect of drinking alcohol”.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) advises no more than 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women plus two to three alcohol-free days a week.