Cirrhosis - Portal
Vein Hypertension Related Complications
Portal vein hypertension is a common and serious complication of cirrhotic
liver disease. Because the blood flow entering the portal vein is being
resisted by the inflamed, fibrostic and nodular liver tissue, the pressure
in the portal vein is increased. Severe complications can occur as the
result of this increased pressure and these include ascites(water
retention), gastroesophageal varices and encephalopathy(mental
In viral hepatitis B and
C, portal vein hypertension mainly stems from hepatic damages, caused by
chronic persistent inflammation and fibrosis in the liver. As the liver
inflammation and fibrosis progresses, the pressure in the portal vein will
continually rise. When this pressure becomes two times higher than the
normal range, collateral complications will start to surface. Under this
pressure level, the portal vein and systematic blood vessels form
collaterals, which will cause the development of gastroesophageal varices.
Varices are the main contributory factor in bleeding, which is the most
serious complication in cirrhotic liver diseases. Another cause of this
type of bleeding is the drop of platelet count and reduced production of
blood clotting factors in the liver.
In the advanced stage, if
the patient is experiencing frequent nose bleeds or gum bleeds, the herbal
solution we use is called Yunan Pai Yao Capsule and it can prevent more
When a severe gastro
esophageal bleeding occurs, the patient’s stool color will turn shiny
black and blood pressure will drop sharply and may cause shock. If this
happens, the patient should be rushed to the nearest emergency room
immediately. Any delay could be fatal.
complication related to the hypertension of portal vein is ascites. In
this stage of the liver disease, the liver's ability to synthesize albumin
is greatly deteriorated. The resulting low albumin level causes the
osmotic pressure of the blood to decrease and the serum’s ability to
hold fluid is compromised. Fluid then leaks into the stomach cavity and
forms the ascites.
When ascites occurs, the patient should restrict salt intake (salt causes
water retention). To treat ascites, the first measure is to improve the
overall function of the liver and increase albumin production.
To reduce water retention in the stomach, an herbal diuretic formula can
be used to eliminate the ascites and ankle edema.