Aims/background: Cirrhotic patients exhibit a hyperdynamic and hyporeactive circulation with central hypovolaemia which may influence the course of the disease. As terlipressin, a vasopressin analogue, may modify systemic haemodynamics in these patients, the aim of the present study was to assess the acute effects of terlipressin on central and systemic haemodynamics.
Methods: Sixteen patients with alcoholic cirrhosis and portal hypertension had their systemic, central, and splanchnic haemodynamics determined at baseline and after a blind randomised bolus infusion (2 mg) of terlipressin/placebo.
Results: After terlipressin, the arterial blood pressure and the systemic vascular resistance increased by 26% and 61%, respectively (both p<0.001), and the cardiac output, heart rate, and arterial compliance decreased by 18%, 11%, and 32%, respectively (all p<0.001). The central circulation time increased by 36% (p<0.001), whereas the central and arterial blood volume only increased by 4% (p= 0.07). As expected, both portal pressure and hepatic blood flow decreased (17% and 29%, both p<0.001). The decrease in portal pressure after terlipressin was significantly related to the increase in systemic vascular resistance (r=-0.52, p<0.05) and the central circulation time (r=-0.80, p<0.0001).
Conclusions: Terlipressin significantly attenuates the hyperdynamic circulation in portal hypertensive patients without a further contraction of the central and arterial blood volume. The systemic haemodynamic response to terlipressin is moreover associated with the decrease in portal pressure. Terlipressin may therefore have potentially beneficial effects on the hyperdynamic circulation in cirrhosis in addition to its effects on portal pressure.