What Is Portal Hypertension?


Quick Answer

Portal hypertension is blood pressure elevation in a group of veins called the portal venous system, states WebMD. Liver damage causes this condition by prohibiting proper blood flow through the liver. Portal hypertension is potentially life-threatening.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of portal hypertension include fluid accumulating in the abdomen, gastrointestinal bleeding, a reduced level of blood cells that create blood clots and an altered mental state, notes WebMD. Cirrhosis of the liver commonly causes portal hypertension, but focal nodular hyperplasia, blood clots and schistosomiasis also can cause the condition. Doctors note increased fluid in the abdomen and dilated varices and veins to diagnose the condition, and endoscopic exams, lab tests and X-rays also may determine portal hypertension. Most treatments for portal hypertension such as endoscopic therapy, nonselective beta-blockers, esophageal vatical banding and lactulose focus on treating the symptoms and preventing complications.

The use of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts and distal splenorenal shunts are alternate portal hypertension treatments, explains WebMD. The transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt is placed inside of the liver to redirect blood flow, and the distal splenorenal shunt connects the veins in the spleen to the left kidney to regulate bleeding. A low-sodium and protein diet also treats portal hypertension, and street drugs and alcohol should be avoided for optimal liver function.

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