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What is portal hypertension?

Portal hypertension is increased blood pressure in the liver's portal vein, a major vein that transports blood from the stomach to the liver, large and small intestines, spleen, gallbladder, and pancreas. High blood pressure or hypertension in this vein is most often caused by cirrhosis. Other causes include blood clots in this vein, and schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection common in Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, southern China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South America, and a few countries in the Caribbean.
Portal hypertension is one complication of cirrhosis. The portal vein runs between the liver and the intestines. It can develop high blood pressure, or hypertension, in someone who has cirrhosis. Portal hypertension happens because blood cannot flow easily through the scar tissue in a liver affected by cirrhosis. Portal hypertension can cause bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, and is treated with blood pressure medication or, in some cases, a stent in the portal vein.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.