Montagnese S, Bajaj JS
Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) has a major impact on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients, which has clinical and psychosocial consequences. HRQOL in cirrhosis has been measured by generic and liver-specific instruments, with most studies indicating a negative impact of HE. HRQOL abnormalities span daily functioning, sleep–wake cycle changes, and the ability to work. Of these, sleep–wake cycle changes have a major effect on HRQOL, which remains challenging to treat. The personal effect of HRQOL is modulated by the presence of HE, the etiology of cirrhosis, and cognitive reserve. Patients with higher cognitive reserve are able to tolerate HE and its impact on HRQOL better than those with a poor cognitive reserve. The impact of HRQOL impairment is felt by patients (higher mortality and poor daily functioning), as well as by caregivers and families. Caregivers of patients with HE bear a major financial and psychological burden, which may affect their personal health and longevity.