Pharmacological therapy for portal hypertension: rationale and results.Semin Gastrointest Dis. 1995 Jul; 6(3):148-64.SG
Drug therapy for acute variceal bleeding should be viewed as an adjunct to emergency sclerotherapy. Its role in preventing very early rebleeding (within days) following sclerotherapy needs to be established. The best candidates for such a role are somatostatin and octreotide, but glypressin and vasopressin and nitroglycerin combinations have therapeutic effects in the short-term. Propranolol is the drug for long-term prevention of rebleeding and prevention of the first variceal bleed. For primary prophylaxis it significantly reduces the rate of bleeding, and there is a trend towards reducing mortality. It should be used in cirrhotic patients with large varices. For secondary prophylaxis, propranolol significantly reduces rebleeding but does not improve survival. The reduction in rebleeding is similar to long-term sclerotherapy when compared in randomized studies. There is no value in adding beta-blockers to sclerotherapy compared with sclerotherapy alone, but few studies have evaluated the effects after the eradication of varices. beta-Blockers can be used as the first-line therapy to prevent variceal rebleeding. They also have been shown to reduce the frequency of rebleeding from congestive gastropathy. Many patients do not have a portal pressure reduction with propranolol. The addition of isosorbide mononitrate converts many nonresponders to responders. Current clinical trials are evaluating if therapeutic efficacy is improved by these drug combinations.