Clearing Hepatitis C May Also Reduce Hypertension

Portal hypertension can result in bleeding from varicose veins in the esophagus.

Portal vein hypertension was found to diminish in patients who were cured of hepatitis C (HCV) if they were treated in the early stages of their disease, according to a study conducted by the University of Vienna.

Researchers were unsure if cirrhosis and portal vein hypertension were reversible once HCV was no longer detectable in patients. This raised concerns because portal hypertension can result in bleeding from varicose veins in the esophagus, or developing ascites and abdominal dropsy.

In a study, researchers took portal vein pressure measurements on HCV-negative patients treated with an interferon-free treatment. They used a new method similar to ultrasound, which revealed that portal vein hypertension diminished in a majority of patients, as long as they were treated in the early stages of the disease.

The findings suggest that patients won’t have to undergo endoscopic check-ups as often as before.

“As a general rule, the probability of portal vein hypertension diminishing is greater, the earlier treatment was started,” said lead researcher Mattias Mandorfer. “However, despite the promising results, we still strongly recommend that patients attend for check-ups, because portal vein hypertension does not diminish in all patients and, irrespective of whether it does or does not, there is a risk of developing liver cancer as a result of cirrhosis.”