Stewart is one of four cousins with a liver condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, which affects people who drink little or no alcohol. It causes inflammation and scarring of the liver that can eventually lead to irreversible liver damage.
While the cause of NASH isn’t known, the condition often runs in families. Stewart and his cousins were diagnosed after three family members died of the condition.
It’s also linked to several conditions that can lead to fat deposits in the liver. For example, people who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop NASH. So are people with high blood sugar, diabetes, and high levels of triglycerides, a fat found in the blood.
Stewart had never been seriously overweight and didn’t have other risk factors associated with NASH. In fact, he worked out with weights four times a week, walked and golfed regularly, and was in excellent shape. Except for his liver.
“I knew from my diagnosis that I only had a few more years left,” Stewart said. “That wears on your mind.”