September 1984

Propranolol in the Treatment of Cirrhotic Ascites

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Hepatology, the Department of Medicine, University of Southern California School of Medicine and Liver Unit, Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Downey.

Arch Intern Med. 1984;144(9):1761-1763. doi:10.1001/archinte.1984.00350210073012

• Propranolol hydrochloride is reported to lower portal pressure and inhibit renin secretion in patients with chronic liver disease, actions that might lessen the tendency to ascites formation. We compared the effect of diuretics with that of the same dose of diuretics plus propranolol on natriuresis, urine output, and daily weight loss in 13 hospitalized patients with stable chronic liver disease, sodium retention, and ascites. The propranolol hydrochloride dose was 20 to 160 mg four times a day, titrated to reduce resting pulse by 25% or systolic BP 10 mm Hg. Diuretics given were furosemide, 80 to 160 mg, and triamterene, 100 or 200 mg/day. Periods of time when each regimen was received ranged from one to four days. Creatinine excretion documented complete urine collections. Compared with diuretics alone, diuretics plus propranolol substantially reduced resting pulse, systolic BP, and urine sodium excretion, although not creatinine clearance. This antinatriuretic effect may limit the proposed usefulness of propranolol for prevention of variceal bleeding in patients with cirrhosis and ascites.

(Arch Intern Med 1984;144:1761-1763)