Cirrhosis and Variceal Bleeding – Part 1
Cirrhosis affects 3 out of 1,000 adults in North America and is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths annually. A major consequence of cirrhosis is bleeding of varices (abnormally engorged veins), which contributes significantly to the morbidity and mortality (illness and death).
Varices result when there is obstruction to the portal venous flow (flow of blood from the bowel to the liver) as seen in cirrhosis, Budd-Chiar8i syndrome, portal venous thrombosis, and portal fibrosis that causes portal hypertension (increased blood pressure in the portal vein).
Eventually, blood is shunted around the area of obstruction and varices develop to decompress the blocked portal vein and return blood to the systemic circulation (the heart). Varices usually develop when the portal venous pressure rises above 12 mm Hg (normal value is < 5mm Hg).
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