Portal hypertension is an increase in pressure within the portal vein. The portal vein is the main vein that extends from the digestive organ to the liver.
The increased pressure is caused by a blockage (clot) in the blood flow from the digestive organs to the liver.
The increased pressure in the portal vein causes large veins (varices) to develop across the esophagus and stomach to bypass the blockage. The varices become very fragile and can bleed easily.
If the varices are discovered through a gastroscopy they are usually graded on a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being the most dangerous to bleed.
In the US, they are graded on a scale of 1 to 4. (Esophageal varices will be discussed in greater detail on another article).
In my particular case, portal hypertension was caused by thrombosis or clotting of the portal vein due to an apparently unknown genetic defect, which was thought to be some kind of protein deficiency.
This cause often termed non-cirrhotic is not the most common cause of this condition, as is cirrhosis of the liver.
Cirrhosis results from the healing of a liver injury caused by hepatitis, alcohol abuse, or other causes of liver damage.
In cirrhosis, the scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and will slow it’s processing function.
Read more about my own personal Portal Hypertension Journey.