Risk and Predictors of Variceal Bleeding in Cirrhosis Patients Receiving Primary Prophylaxis With Non-Selective Beta-Blockers.

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Risk and Predictors of Variceal Bleeding in Cirrhosis Patients Receiving Primary Prophylaxis With Non-Selective Beta-Blockers.

Am J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec;111(12):1778-1787

Authors: Shukla R, Kramer J, Cao Y, Ying J, Tansel A, Walder A, Advani S, El-Serag HB, Kanwal F

Abstract
OBJECTIVES: Prior studies have demonstrated the efficacy of non-selective beta-blockers (NSBB) in preventing first variceal bleeding in patients with cirrhosis. However, little is known about the overall effectiveness of NSBB in routine clinical care.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of cirrhotic patients without prior bleeding who initiated a NSBB (propranolol, nadolol) at any Veterans Administration facility between 2008 and 2013. The primary outcome was variceal bleeding within 12 months. We conducted Cox-proportional hazards analyses to identify demographic, clinical, and NSBB-related (type of NSBB, mean dose, dose change, and heart rate response) factors associated with variceal bleeding.
RESULTS: Of 5,775 patients, 678 (11.7%) developed variceal bleeding. Mean daily dose of NSBB was <40 mg in 58.8%, 18.1% had either upward or downward titration in NSBB dose, and 9.8% had hemodynamic response. Patients who were younger, with ascites, greater medical comorbidity, and higher MELD (Model for end-stage liver disease) scores had a higher risk of variceal bleeding. Patients on a higher daily dose (>60 vs. <40 mg, adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 0.64; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.51-0.81), who had either upward or downward dose titration (adjusted HR 0.69; 95% CI: 0.52-0.90 and 0.64; 95% CI 0.45-0.90, respectively), and those who achieved hemodynamic response (adjusted HR 0.75; 95% CI=0.57-1.0) had lower risk.
CONCLUSIONS: Approximately 12% of patients bled while being on NSBB for primary prophylaxis. A higher NSBB dose and dose titration were protective; yet most patients did not have the NSBB dose titrated to the recommended levels. Our data highlight the need for careful monitoring of cirrhotic patients on NSBB.

PMID: 27670600 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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