The purpose of this study was to determine the relation of the circulatory findings of cirrhosis to hepatic decompensation. Twenty individuals with biopsy-proven cirrhosis and 15 aged-matched controls underwent echocardiographic evaluation of cardiac function. Cardiac dimensions and indices derived from echocardiograms were related to various measures of liver decompensation. Cirrhotics had a higher heart rate, left ventricular end-diastolic volume, left ventricular ejection fraction, and cardiac output and a lower mean blood pressure and peripheral resistance than aged-matched subjects. On multiple regression analyses mean blood pressure, peripheral resistance, and cardiac output were all found to be related to estimates of ascites. Also, cirrhotics with ascites had a lower peripheral resistance than those without this finding.
Conclusion: In clinically stable patients with cirrhosis, the presence of ascites indicates an intense vasodilatory state with a hyperdynamic circulation.