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Can You Die from Hepatitis C?

Ask a Doctor

I was just diagnosed with hepatitis C. I’m worried about the prognosis. Is it fatal? Could I die from hep C?

Doctor’s Response

Hepatitis C is a viral disease that harms the liver and it can be fatal in some cases. Patients infected with hepatitis C virus die on average 15 years sooner than people who do not have the illness.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists 18,153 deaths in 2016 due to hepatitis C as an underlying or contributing cause of death.

With hepatitis C, the liver becomes seriously damaged due to inflammation and this can lead to potentially fatal complications including cirrhosis, which is severe scarring of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer. About 10-20 percent of patients with hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis within 20-30 years, 3-6 percent will go into liver failure, and 1-5 percent will develop liver cancer.

For more information, read our full medical article on hepatitis C.

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Reviewed on 4/2/2019
References
Carter, Michael. Two US studies show that hepatitis C has a major impact on life expectancy. 27 May 2014. 12 November 2018 .

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis C Questions and Answers for the Public. 2 November 2018. 12 November 2018 .

—. Viral Hepatitis Statistics and Surveillance. 18 April 2018. 12 November 2018 .
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