Although many people with advanced liver disease develop esophageal varices, most won't experience bleeding. Varices are more likely to bleed if you have:

  • High portal vein pressure. The risk of bleeding increases with the amount of pressure in the portal vein (portal hypertension).
  • Large varices. The larger the varices, the more likely they are to bleed.
  • Red marks on the varices. When viewed through an endoscope passed down your throat, some varices show long, red streaks or red spots. These marks indicate a high risk of bleeding.
  • Severe cirrhosis or liver failure. Most often, the more severe your liver disease, the more likely varices are to bleed.
  • Continued alcohol use. Your risk of variceal bleeding is far greater if you continue to drink than if you stop, especially if your disease is alcohol related.
Mar. 15, 2013