DOI: 10.3390/biomedicines12010057 ISSN: 2227-9059

B-Blockers in Liver Cirrhosis: A Wonder Drug for Every Stage of Portal Hypertension? A Narrative Review

Dimitrios S. Karagiannakis, Nikolaos D. Karakousis, Theodoros Androutsakos
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

In cirrhotic patients, non-selective b-blockers (NSBBs) constitute the reference treatment of choice as monotherapy or combined with band ligation for the prevention of first variceal bleeding and rebleeding, respectively. Furthermore, the last Baveno VII guidelines recommended carvedilol, a b-blocker with additional anti-a1 receptor activity, in all compensated cirrhotics with clinically significant portal hypertension, to prevent liver decompensation. Interestingly enough, NSBBs have been reported to have a potentially positive impact on the short-term mortality of patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure. However, concerns remain about the use of b-blockers in the presence of severe complications, such as refractory ascites, hepatorenal syndrome, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, or established cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. In addition, it has not been verified yet whether carvedilol supersedes all the other NSBBs in every stage of liver disease, even when severe complications have developed. Therefore, this review aims to illustrate recent data regarding the potential role of b-blockers across all stages of liver disease, beyond the primary and secondary prophylaxis of variceal bleeding, and address the authors’ proposals on the use of NSBBs concerning the severity of liver disease and the patient’s performance status.

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