First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information, visitor restrictions, testing, treatment, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Cirrhosis: Beta-Blockers for Portal Hypertension and Varices
Beta-blocker medicines are used to prevent an episode of variceal bleeding by lowering the blood pressure in the enlarged veins (varices). Variceal bleeding occurs when the blood pressure increases in the portal vein system and the veins in the esophagus, stomach, and rectum enlarge to accommodate blocked blood flow through the liver.
By slowing the heart rate and widening the blood vessels, beta-blocker medicines such as propranolol and nadolol appear to lower the blood pressure in varices that bypass the liver. In people who have esophageal varices, beta-blockers have been shown to reduce the risk of having a first episode of bleeding.footnote 1 They are usually prescribed for people who have moderate-to-large varices.
Garcia-Tsao G, et al. (2007). Prevention and management of gastroesophageal varices and variceal hemorrhage in cirrhosis. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 102(9): 2086–2102.
Current as of:
September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineW. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.