BOSTON, Nov. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the past decade, the prevalence of cirrhosis has increased by almost 40 percent among people with hepatitis C (HCV) in the United States, according to research presented at The Liver Meeting® — held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Hepatitis C has been linked to cirrhosis (i.e., scarring of the liver), decompensated cirrhosis, and death, but the extent of the prevalence of these conditions among hepatitis C patients in the U.S. has not yet been observed in large real-world studies within the U.S. Researchers recently sought to fill this research gap by studying the prevalence of cirrhosis and decompensated cirrhosis — as well as the incidence of death — among 11,169 U.S. adults between 2006 and 2014. "This analysis of cirrhosis prevalence is part of a larger study of viral hepatitis in the U.S., called the Chronic Hepatitis Cohort Study or 'CHeCS'," explains Stuart C. Gordon, MD; director of Hepatology, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Henry Ford Health System and one of the lead investigators in the study. "Based at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, we work in concert with three other U.S. health systems and the Centers for Disease Control to study the outcomes and treatments for hepatitis B and C in 'real world' patients, i.e., those under routine clinical care. Previous estimates had suggested that the medical burden of chronic hepatitis C and its complications would increase in the U.S. given the aging of the population, including the "baby boomer" cohort born between 1945 and 1965 who are at the highest risk for infection. We attempted to a) gauge whether, in fact, HCV related cirrhosis and its complications were increasing and b) if so, whether there were disparities among different populations in order to better target for treatment those groups that may be at higher risk of poor outcomes." The patients studied were receiving care at the four large U.S. healthcare systems that participate in the CHeCS study. The investigators identified cirrhosis using liver biopsy reports, serum markers of liver scarring, and ICD-9 diagnostic codes. The team also used a set of ICD-9 codes that have been shown to predict decompensated cirrhosis — the term used when cirrhosis becomes so severe that the liver ceases to function properly — to determine its presence in patients.