Who is at Risk for HE?

Here are some facts about who gets HE:

  • Most often seen in people with cirrhosis
  • Can occur in people of any age who have acute or chronic liver disease
  • Affects men and women equally
  • More likely to occur in people that have had a TIPS procedure or surgical shunts

About 7 out of 10 people with cirrhosis develop minimal HE (Grade 0); the exact number isn’t known because symptoms are subtle at this stage, making it difficult to diagnose. What is known is that you are at least three times more likely to progress from minimal to obvious, or overt, symptoms of HE if it’s not diagnosed early. So communicate with your doctor right away if you suspect you may have HE so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.

People with chronic liver disease are at greater risk of developing a more chronic form of the disorder where symptoms get worse or continue to come back, known as “HE recurrence.” It isn’t known why some people experience HE recurrences and others do not, but there are several possible triggers.