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Abstract

Although it is assumed that hemodynamic responders to pharmacological therapy after a variceal hemorrhage are adequately protected from rebleeding, there is no evidence that either this response or its protective effect extend beyond the usual 2-year follow-up featured in available studies. We aimed to assess the maintenance of hemodynamic response and its impact on outcomes in a large cohort of hemodynamic responders during a long follow-up. One hundred three patients with cirrhosis admitted with acute variceal bleeding between 2001 and 2010 were prospectively evaluated. The hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) was determined 5 days after the bleeding and repeated 5-7 days after maximal tolerated doses of nadolol and nitrates. Hemodynamic responders (HVPG ≤12 mm Hg or ≥20% decrease from baseline) were maintained on drugs and followed up with annual HVPG measurements. Forty-eight patients (47%) were hemodynamic responders. The median follow-up was 48 months (range, 2-108 months). Long-term HVPG evaluations could not be performed in eight patients (four deaths, two rebleedings, two follow-ups <1 year). Among the remaining 40 patients, hemodynamic response was maintained in 26 (65%) and lost in 14 (35%). There were no baseline differences between the two subgroups. However, 100% of alcoholic patients who remained abstinent maintained long-term response, compared with 36% of nonabstinent alcoholics and 50% of patients with viral cirrhosis. Patients with loss of hemodynamic response rebled more during follow-up and showed a higher incidence of death or liver transplantation. Conclusions: After variceal bleeding, long-term maintenance of hemodynamic response to drug therapy is mainly restricted to patients with alcoholic cirrhosis who remain abstinent. The loss of this long-term response carries worse clinical outcomes. (HEPATOLOGY 2012)