Ascites as a marker for the hyperdynamic heart of Laennec's cirrhosis

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1992 Oct;16(5):968-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1992.tb01902.x.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ascites / diagnosis
  • Ascites / physiopathology*
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Cardiomyopathy, Alcoholic / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathy, Alcoholic / physiopathology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / diagnosis
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology
  • Vasodilation / physiology