Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 107  

Importance of screening and early detection of pulmonary hypertension and current treatment options

N Mohan 
 University of South Dakota School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

Correspondence Address:
N Mohan
University of South Dakota School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
USA




How to cite this article:
Mohan N. Importance of screening and early detection of pulmonary hypertension and current treatment options.J Postgrad Med 2005;51:107-107


How to cite this URL:
Mohan N. Importance of screening and early detection of pulmonary hypertension and current treatment options. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2005 [cited 2022 May 24 ];51:107-107
Available from: https://www.jpgmonline.com/text.asp?2005/51/2/107/16458


Full Text

Pulmonary hypertension (PHT), usually a late-stage complication, is the most common cause of death in mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD), occurring in up to 38% of patients.[1] Since PHT does not become clinically manifest until advanced, even mild elevations in pulmonary arterial pressure reflect diffuse and extensive vascular damage. Through the mid-1980s median survival from the date of diagnosis was approximately 2.8 years. However, several novel therapeutic agents developed in recent years, have made early detection and monitoring imperative for improving long-term prognosis. ECHO with Doppler ultrasound is the commonest screening tool and should be performed to establish a baseline at initial diagnosis of MCTD.[2] Pulmonary function testing (PFT) including diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO) is a necessary part of the evaluation of all patients, primarily to exclude or characterize the contribution of underlying airway or parenchymal lung disease. A fall in DLCO in a patient with scleroderma/MCTD and normal lung volumes is suggestive of the early development of pulmonary arterial hypertension. PFTs with DLCO should be performed periodically (every 6-12 months) to improve detection of pulmonary vascular or interstitial disease with ECHO every 1-2 years, especially if the patient has had symptoms of connective tissue disease for more than 10 years. Formal assessment of exercise testing, typically 6-min walk test helps determine disease severity, response to therapy and progression.[2]

Once the diagnosis of PHT has been established, general approaches to treatment include supplemental oxygen for hypoxemia to maintain oxygen saturations >90% at all times, continuous positive airway pressure therapy and treatment of other contributing factors such as chronic thromboembolic disease with warfarin, right ventricular failure with diuretics and digitalis etc. Patients who respond to vasodilator testing have an improved long-term survival with the use of calcium channel blockers.[3] Prostacyclin derivatives (epoprostenol (IV), treprostinil (subcutaneous), iloprost (inhaled), beraprost (oral)) are potent vasodilators with antiplatelet aggregatory effects that have been shown to primarily improve exercise tolerance and survival to a lesser extent. Endothelin antagonists (bosentan, sitaxsentan, ambrisentan) block endothelin-1, which is a potent vasoconstrictor and smooth-muscle mitogen that might contribute to the increase in vascular tone and the pulmonary vascular hypertrophy associated with PAH.[4] Other agents that are currently being evaluated include phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as dipyridamole and sildenafil, inhaled nitrous oxide and arginine supplementation.[5] Surgical techniques including lung transplant remain the mainstay of treatment for patients with PHT who are unresponsive to medical management.

References

1Burdt MA, Hoffman RW, Detuscher SL, Wang GS, Johnson JC, Sharp GC. Long-term outcome in mixed connective tissue disease: longitudinal clinical and serologic findings. Arthritis Rheum 1999;42:899-909.
2McGoon M, Gutterman D, Steen V, Barst R, McCrory DC, Fortin TA. Screening, early detection and diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension. ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2004;126:14S-34S.
3Rich S, Kaufmann E, Levy PS. The effect of high doses of calcium-channel blockers on survival in primary pulmonary hypertension. N Engl J Med 1992;327:76-81.
4Kim H, Yung GL, Marsh JJ, Konopka RG, Pedersen CA, Chiles PG. Endothelin mediates pulmonary vascular remodelling in a canine model of chronic embolic pulmonary hypertension. Eur Respir J 2000;15:640-8.
5Badesch DB, Abman SH, Ahearn GS, Barst RJ, McCrory DC, Simonneau G. Medical therapy for pulmonary arterial hypertension. ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2004;126:35S-62S.

 
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