OBJECTIVES: The present study was designed to determine the effects of long-term antialdosterone treatment on cardiac structural and functional alterations, portal and systemic hemodynamic as well as adrenergic dysfunction characterizing Child A cirrhotic patients with F1 esophageal varices. METHODS: Twenty-two Child A postviral preascitic cirrhotic patients were randomly allocated to 200 mg/day K-Canrenoate (13 patients, age 59.6 ± 2.2 yr, mean + SEM) or no-drug treatment (9 patients, age 61.8 ± 2.3) for a 6-month-period. Measurements, which included hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG), left ventricular wall thickness, left ventricular end-diastolic volume and diastolic function (LVWT, LVEDV, and E/A ratio, echocardiography), and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA, microneurography, peroneal nerve), were obtained at baseline and following 6 months of drug or no-drug treatment. Ten healthy age-matched subjects served as controls. RESULTS: Cirrhotic patients were characterized by increased HVPG, LVWT, and MSNA values and by a depressed E/A ratio. K-Canrenoate treatment significantly reduced HVPG (from 15.3 ± 1.0 to 13.8 ± 0.8 mmHg, p <0.05), LVWT (from 21.8 ± 0.5 to 20.7 ± 0.6 mm, p <0.02), and LVEDV (from 99.2 ± 7 to 86.4 ± 6 ml, p <0.01), leaving E/A ratio and MSNA almost unaltered. No significant change was observed in the untreated group of cirrhotic patients followed for 6 months without intervention. CONCLUSIONS: These data provide evidence that aldosterone blockade by long-term K-Canrenoate administration improves hepatic hemodynamics by lowering HVPG and ameliorates cardiac structure and function by favoring a reduction in LVWT and LVEDV as well. They also show, however, that this therapeutic intervention neither improves left ventricular diastolic dysfunction nor exerts sympathoinhibitory effects.
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