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Hepatitis C eradication with direct-acting anti-virals reduces the risk of variceal bleeding.

Moon AM, Green PK, Rockey DC, Berry K, Ioannou GN. Hepatitis C eradication with direct-acting anti-virals reduces the risk of variceal bleeding. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics. 2020 Feb 1; 51(3):364-373.

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BACKGROUND: The real-world, long-term benefits of sustained virologic response (SVR) on the risk of variceal bleeding remain unclear. AIM: To assess the association between DAA-induced SVR and post-treatment variceal bleeding METHODS: We identified patients who initiated DAA-only anti-viral treatments in the United States Veterans Affairs healthcare system from 2013 to 2015. We followed patients until 1 January 2019 for the development of gastro-oesophageal variceal bleeding defined by diagnostic codes. We used multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression to assess the association between SVR and development of variceal bleeding, adjusting for potential confounders. RESULTS: Among 33 582 DAA-treated patients, 549 (1.6%) developed variceal bleeding after treatment (mean follow-up 3.1 years). Compared to no SVR, SVR was associated with a significantly lower incidence of variceal bleeding among all patients (0.46 vs 1.26 per 100 patient-years, adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 0.66, 95% CI 0.52-0.83), among patients with pre-treatment cirrhosis (1.55 vs 2.96 per 100 patient-years, AHR 0.73, 95% CI 0.57-0.93) and among patients without pre-treatment cirrhosis (0.07 vs 0.29 per 100 patient-years, AHR 0.33, 95% CI 0.17-0.65). The risk of variceal bleeding after treatment was lower in those who achieved SVR vs no SVR among patients who had non-bleeding varices (3.5 vs 4.9 per 100 patient-years) or bleeding varices (12.9 vs 16.4 per 100 patient-years) diagnosed before treatment, but these differences were not statistically significant in adjusted analyses. CONCLUSION: DAA-induced SVR is independently associated with a lower risk of variceal bleeding during long-term follow-up in patients with and without pre-treatment cirrhosis. These findings demonstrate an important real-world benefit of DAA treatment.

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