Purpose: Alcohol consumption has decreased in Denmark in recent years. We aimed to illustrate and investigate the developments in the incidence, hospital care, and mortality of alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) in Denmark during the last 25 years.
Patients and Methods: Through nationwide healthcare registries, we identified all Danish patients with incident ALD in 1994-2018. We computed standardized incidence rates by sex, age, and geography, age-specific incidence rates by birth cohort, and standardized prevalence. We enumerated inpatient admissions, days of admission, outpatient visits, and emergency room visits. Lastly, we estimated relative risks of mortality, standardized mortality rates, and the proportion of deaths caused by ALD.
Results: The standardized incidence rate decreased from its peak at 357 per 1,000,000 in 2009 to 240 per 1,000,000 in 2018, and the decrease was evident for both sexes and all age groups below 70 years. The standardized prevalence was stable around 0.22% from 2011 onwards. There was an almost fivefold geographic variation in standardized incidence by municipalities, and age-specific incidence rates decreased sequentially with each 5-year birth cohort after 1960. The number of inpatient admissions, days of admission, and emergency room visits decreased during the study period, while the number of outpatient visits was stable. For patients diagnosed in 2014-2018 compared to 1994-1998, the relative risk of 1-year mortality was 0.83 (95% confidence interval: 0.78-0.87), and the standardized mortality along with the proportion of deaths caused by ALD decreased during the study period.
Conclusion: The incidence of ALD decreased from 357 to 240 per 1,000,000 over the last 10 years in Denmark. During the same period, the prevalence remained stable around 0.22% and mortality decreased. Additionally, the burden of ALD on hospital care decreased significantly between 1994 and 2018. We anticipate a further decrease in the incidence of ALD in the future.