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Portal Hypertension


Portal hypertension is high blood pressure in the portal vein of your liver. Your portal vein is the main blood supply for your liver. Follow-up care is important, because this condition can be life-threatening. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help to stop drinking alcohol. Ask which medicines you should not take with this condition.


Call 911 if:

  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You vomit blood.
  • You have bloody or black bowel movements.
  • You have swelling in your legs.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your abdomen swells.
  • You urinate very little.
  • Your heartbeat is faster than normal for you.
  • You have increased confusion or forgetfulness
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need more tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Beta-blockers lower the blood pressure in your portal vein. This is done by slowing your heart rate and making your blood vessels wider. This may prevent damage to your liver and help prevent bleeding.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage portal hypertension:

  • Limit sodium (salt) as directed. Too much sodium can affect your fluid balance. Check labels to find low-sodium or no-salt-added foods. Some low-sodium foods use potassium salts for flavor. Too much potassium can also cause health problems. Your healthcare provider will tell you how much sodium and potassium are safe for you to have in a day. He or she may recommend that you limit sodium to 2,300 mg a day.

  • Follow the meal plan recommended by your healthcare provider. A dietitian or your provider can give you more information on low-sodium plans or the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. The DASH plan is low in sodium, unhealthy fats, and total fat. It is high in potassium, calcium, and fiber.

  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol will narrow your blood vessels more, damage your liver, and make your condition worse. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help quitting.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before you take any medicines. Certain medicines can damage your liver. Examples include antibiotics, acetaminophen, and birth control pills.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Portal Hypertension (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

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