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ALF Launches Hepatic Encephalopathy Website

With the invaluable support of Salix Pharmaceuticals, the American Liver Foundation unveiled a microsite on August 21 that is dedicated to Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE), a life-threatening liver disease.

The overall title for this new online resource center is “HE 123,” a reference to the three-pronged approach to tackling this serious condition by way of diagnosis, treatment and support.

HE patients, family members, caregivers and healthcare professionals, among others, can find the microsite at

Why is HE Such a Serious Liver Disorder?

HE is caused by a build-up of toxins to the brain if the liver can’t filter toxins from a person’s blood.

In the words of the HE 123 microsite: “When ammonia or a range of other toxic substances build up in your body when your liver isn’t working well, it may affect your brain and cause HE.”

Most often, HE is seen in people with advanced liver disease. It’s a major complication of cirrhosis, affecting people both mentally and physically.

Symptoms include confusion, short attention spans, forgetfulness, mood swings, anxiety, and personality changes. HE patients can suffer from jumbled or slurred speech, shaking hands or arms, drowsiness, and even coma or death.

What to Look for on the HE Microsite

Without doubt, there has long been the need for a comprehensive information online portal on the topic of HE. We believe our HE 123 microsite, and its prominent placement on our main website, fills that urgent demand.

Here’s a quick overview as to how you can navigate the microsite’s content:


About seven out of 10 people with cirrhosis develop minimal HE.

  • HE 123 pinpoints who is most at risk, revealing that “about seven out of 10 people with cirrhosis develop minimal HE.”
  • Visitors to the site are told that, while there is no specific way for diagnosing HE, a patient’s symptoms, medical history and a clinical exam including blood tests, can reveal whether someone has HE. It’s often “a process of elimination.”
  • The various stages of HE are described.


  • Though HE 123 concedes that HE is a serious illness, it underscores the importance of seeking early treatment.
  • The microsite clarifies what the patient can expect prior to treatment.
  • It lists the various treatment options available depending upon what stage HE has reached, including a liver transplant.
  • The site emphasizes the importance of adhering to the selected medication regimen and following a strict diet and nutrition plan.


  • HE123 informs a patient and his or her loved ones about available helpful resources and support services. These resources are offered by the American Liver Foundation, other organizations and Salix Pharmaceuticals.
  • Information about peer support groups and financial assistance are readily available, as well as advice directed at those who live with patients who have HE, and caregivers.
  • There is a series of caregiver stories, all told in their own words, and a “HE News” section.
  • Visitors to the site can locate a healthcare provider or treatment facility in their area, and download brochures pertaining to HE.
  • Those who visit the site are invited to call our Help Line. Also, when they click on “Enroll in HE 123” and provide their first and last names, email address, and zip code, they will receive a regular educational series focusing on HE, conveniently sent via email on a quarterly basis.

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