Disease management strategies have gained attention in recent years because of their potential to improve health-related quality of life and prevent excessive resource use. Despite recognition as an important cause of mortality, cirrhosis with portal hypertension has not been widely discussed as a condition amenable to planned care management. Given the effect of variceal hemorrhage as the most immediate life-threatening complication of portal hypertension, a number of high-quality controlled clinical trials have confirmed the efficacy of beta-blocker therapy for primary and secondary prophylaxis. Despite the existence of practice guidelines that incorporate this information, specific clinical scenarios that demand consideration for beta-blocker therapy have not been well described. In this article, a number of hypothetical patient-based cases drawn from the authors' experiences are utilized to illustrate these issues.
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