Though the development of progressive liver disease or experience in symptoms is not so common, people with normal ALT levels are at risk of liver damage from HCV. The rest usually complain about symptoms like abdominal discomfort, fatigue, nausea, muscle ache etc.
5-20% of the people infected will develop cirrhosis, as a result of widespread liver damage over a period of 20-30 years. Progression to cirrhosis is quicker in older people, obese and the immune suppressed. Heavy alcohol can also accelerate this, more so in men who take five drinks a day and in women who take three drinks a day.
Cirrhosis is not life threatening but it affects the functioning of liver and increases the chance of liver cancer. Out of 100 HCV patients, it is seen that 1-5 die out of the consequences of a chronic infection like liver cancer or liver failure.
HCV also increases the chance of cardiovascular disease and cancer. If cured, however, they have a normal life expectancy. To summarize, it can be said that out of a 100 affected with HCV, 75-80 will develop chronic HCV infection and out of these 60-70 will develop chronic liver disease, 5-20 will develop cirrhosis over a period of 20-30 years and 1-5 will die of liver cancer or cirrhosis.