Cirrhosis and Portal Hypertension | Overview

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What is cirrhosis?

In people who have cirrhosis, the cells of the liver are damaged and can’t repair themselves. As liver cells die, scar tissue forms. When this scar tissue builds up, blood can’t flow through the liver properly.

Normally, poisons and wastes in the blood get filtered out as blood passes through the liver. If scar tissue keeps blood from flowing normally through the liver, the blood doesn’t get filtered. Poisons and wastes can build up in the body. In serious cases, cirrhosis can even lead to coma and death.

What is portal hypertension?

Normally, blood is carried to the liver by a major blood vessel called the portal vein. If blood can’t flow easily through the liver because of cirrhosis, the blood in this vein slows down and the pressure inside the vein increases. This higher blood pressure in the portal vein is called portal hypertension.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 04/97

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