Prognosis of Acute Variceal Bleeding: Is Being on Beta-Blockers an Aggravating Factor? A Short-Term Survival Analysis

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Nonselective beta-blockers (NSBB) are widely used because they have been proved effective in the prophylaxis of acute variceal bleeding (AVB). However, a significant proportion of patients still experience AVB while on treatment with NSBB, and its impact on prognosis of AVB is unknown. The present study was aimed at assessing the effect of being on prophylactic therapy with NSBB on 5-day failure and 6-week mortality of patients with cirrhosis admitted with AVB. Included were 142 patients: 49 were receiving prophylactic therapy with NSBB (NSBB group) and 93 were not (control group). There were some differences in the baseline characteristics between the groups: higher proportion of alcoholic etiology and active alcoholism (37% versus 10%), higher platelet count, and lower hematocrit at admission in the control group. However, the severity of AVB and initial treatment were similar. Five-day failure occurred in 20% of patients (14% in NSBB versus 24% in controls,P= 0.27). The adjusted odds ratio for 5-day failure under NSBB was 2.46 (95% confidence interval 0.53-11.37,P= 0.25). Nineteen patients (13%) died, and two had liver transplantation within 6 weeks. The probability of survival at 6 weeks was 96% in the NSBB group and 82% in the control group (P= 0.02). After adjusting by propensity score and Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score, the NSBB adjusted odds ratio for 6-week mortality was 0.38 (95% confidence interval 0.05-2.63,P= 0.32). The estimated association between NSBB with both 5-day failure and 6-week mortality was homogenous across all Model for End-Stage Liver Disease spectrums.


Prophylactic NSBB treatment is not a negative prognostic indicator for the short-term survival of patients with cirrhosis admitted with AVB.(Hepatology 2015;62:1840–1846)

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