Objectives: Carvedilol is a non-selective β-blocker with intrinsic anti-α(1)-adrenergic activity, potentially more effective than propranolol in reducing hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG). We compared the long-term effect of carvedilol and propranolol on HVPG and assessed whether the acute response to oral propranolol predicted the long-term HVPG response on either drug.
Material and methods: HVPG was measured in 38 patients with cirrhosis and HVPG ≥ 12 mm Hg at baseline and then again 90 min after an oral dose of 80 mg propranolol. Patients were double-blinded randomized to either carvedilol (21 patients) or propranolol (17 patients) and after 90 days of treatment HVPG measurements were repeated.
Results: HVPG decreased by 19.3 ± 16.1% (p < 0.01) and by 12.5 ± 16.7% (p < 0.01) in the carvedilol and propranolol groups, respectively, with no significant difference between treatment regimens (p = 0.21). Although insignificant, an acute decrease in HVPG of ≥12% was the best cut-off value to predict long-term HVPG response to propranolol when using ROC curve analysis.
Conclusions: This randomized study showed that carvedilol is at least as effective as propranolol on HVPG after long-term administration. Furthermore, a predictive value of an acute propranolol test on HVPG could not be confirmed.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00493480.