BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Newer studies suggest that carvedilol, a beta-blocker with a moderate anti-alpha-1 activity, is superior to propranolol in reducing the portal pressure and risk of variceal bleeding. The effect on arterial blood pressure is a matter of concern especially in decompensated patients. AIMS: to assess potential differential effects of beta-blockers and beta-blockers with moderate anti-alpha-1 activity on selected haemodynamic, humoral, and respiratory characteristics in cirrhosis. METHODS: Patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension were randomised to receive carvedilol (n=16) or propranolol (n=13). Cardiac, systemic and splanchnic parameters along with oxygen saturation and plasma renin were measured at inclusion and after 3 months. RESULTS: Arterial blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output decreased equally, central circulation time and systemic vascular resistance increased significantly but similarly. Central blood volume, plasma volume and arterial compliance were unaltered. The QTc interval and renin levels decreased in the carvedilol group, however not significantly different from the propranolol group. Arterial oxygen saturation and alveolar arterial oxygen gradient remained constant in both groups. Hepatic venous pressure gradient decreased equally in the carvedilol and propranolol groups (-17% and -20%, non significant). CONCLUSIONS: Systemic haemodynamics and pulmonary effects of carvedilol and propranolol are modest and this study could not demonstrate any significant difference between the two treatments.
Digestive and Liver Disease, 2014, Vol 46, Issue 3, p. 251-256