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Cirrhosis: Vasoconstrictor Medicines for Variceal Bleeding

Overview

Vasoconstrictor medicines are used to treat sudden (acute) bleeding from enlarged veins (varices). They make small blood vessels constrict, which reduces blood flow to veins that carry blood to the liver (portal veins).

These medicines also may be used along with endoscopic treatment. Adding medicine to endoscopic treatment works better to control bleeding than endoscopic treatment alone.footnote 1

What are the side effects?

Side effects of vasoconstrictor medicines may include irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), headache, or dizziness. Other side effects may include diarrhea, too much sugar in the blood (hyperglycemia), and formation of gallstones with long-term use.

References

Citations

  1. Garcia-Tsao G, et al. (2007). Prevention and management of gastroesophageal varices and variceal hemorrhage in cirrhosis. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 102(9): 2086–2102.

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology