Portal Hypertension is a condition when the portal veins, the veins present in the stomach and intestine region leads the liver to develop high blood pressure. One of the main cause of high blood pressure is poor liver function or cirrhosis. Cirrhosis blocks the blood that comes to the liver and as such cause the portal vein to develop high pressure. The increased pressure in the veins leads to their enlargement, a condition which is called varicose veins. Sometimes the veins may rupture causing life threatening complications.
Main reasons for development of cirrhosis include hepatitis, alcoholism and drug addiction. When cirrhosis happens, the scar in the liver tissue blocks the proper flow of blood to the liver. Other causes of portal vein hypertension that have been identified include blood clots in the portal vein, blockage of veins that carry blood from the liver to the heart and a parasitic infection called schistosomiasis. People who have HIV develop focal nodular hyperplasia which can also cause portal hypertension.
People with portal hypertension may have the following symptoms:
Tarry stools which are caused due to gastrointestinal bleeding.
Vomiting of blood due to rupture of the portal vein.
Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.
Encephalopathy which leads to forgetfulness and confusion caused due to poor liver function.
Reduction in platelets which lead to formation of blood clots and WBCs formed in the blood to fight infection.
Any of the above symptoms should immediately consult a doctor. Doctor will prescribe various tests like x-rays, scans to understand the intensity of portal hypertension. After understanding the exact nature of portal hypertension, doctors will give necessary medication to control the problem. Portal hypertension cannot be treated but can be only managed.
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