Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Pulmonary arterial hypertension

David Montani123, Sven Günther123, Peter Dorfmüller123, Frédéric Perros123, Barbara Girerd123, Gilles Garcia123, Xavier Jaïs123, Laurent Savale123, Elise Artaud-Macari123, Laura C Price4, Marc Humbert123, Gérald Simonneau123 and Olivier Sitbon123*

Author Affiliations

1 Univ. Paris-Sud, Faculté de Médecine, Kremlin-Bicêtre F-94270, France

2 AP-HP, DHU TORINO, Centre de Référence de l’Hypertension Pulmonaire Sévère, Service de Pneumologie et Réanimation Respiratoire, Hôpital Bicêtre, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre F-94270, France

3 INSERM U999, Labex LERMIT, Hypertension Artérielle Pulmonaire: Physiopathologie et Innovation Thérapeutique, Centre Chirurgical Marie Lannelongue, Le Plessis-Robinson F-92350, France

4 Pulmonary Hypertension Service, Royal Brompton Hospital, London SW3 6NP, UK

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Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2013, 8:97  doi:10.1186/1750-1172-8-97

Published: 6 July 2013

Abstract

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a chronic and progressive disease leading to right heart failure and ultimately death if untreated. The first classification of PH was proposed in 1973. In 2008, the fourth World Symposium on PH held in Dana Point (California, USA) revised previous classifications. Currently, PH is devided into five subgroups. Group 1 includes patients suffering from idiopathic or familial PAH with or without germline mutations. Patients with a diagnosis of PAH should systematically been screened regarding to underlying mutations of BMPR2 gene (bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2) or more rarely of ACVRL1 (activine receptor-like kinase type 1), ENG (endogline) or Smad8 genes. Pulmonary veno occusive disease and pulmonary capillary hemagiomatosis are individualized and designated as clinical group 1'. Group 2 'Pulmonary hypertension due to left heart diseases' is divided into three sub-groups: systolic dysfonction, diastolic dysfonction and valvular dysfonction. Group 3 'Pulmonary hypertension due to respiratory diseases' includes a heterogenous subgroup of respiratory diseases like PH due to pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, lung emphysema or interstitial lung disease for exemple. Group 4 includes chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension without any distinction of proximal or distal forms. Group 5 regroup PH patients with unclear multifactorial mechanisms. Invasive hemodynamic assessment with right heart catheterization is requested to confirm the definite diagnosis of PH showing a resting mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) of ≥ 25 mmHg and a normal pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP) of ≤ 15 mmHg. The assessment of PCWP may allow the distinction between pre-capillary and post-capillary PH (PCWP > 15 mmHg). Echocardiography is an important tool in the management of patients with underlying suspicion of PH. The European Society of Cardiology and the European Respiratory Society (ESC-ERS) guidelines specify its role, essentially in the screening proposing criteria for estimating the presence of PH mainly based on tricuspid regurgitation peak velocity and systolic artery pressure (sPAP). The therapy of PAH consists of non-specific drugs including oral anticoagulation and diuretics as well as PAH specific therapy. Diuretics are one of the most important treatment in the setting of PH because right heart failure leads to fluid retention, hepatic congestion, ascites and peripheral edema. Current recommendations propose oral anticoagulation aiming for targeting an International Normalized Ratio (INR) between 1.5-2.5. Target INR for patients displaying chronic thromboembolic PH is between 2–3. Better understanding in pathophysiological mechanisms of PH over the past quarter of a century has led to the development of medical therapeutics, even though no cure for PAH exists. Several specific therapeutic agents were developed for the medical management of PAH including prostanoids (epoprostenol, trepoprostenil, iloprost), endothelin receptor antagonists (bosentan, ambrisentan) and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (sildenafil, tadalafil). This review discusses the current state of art regarding to epidemiologic aspects of PH, diagnostic approaches and the current classification of PH. In addition, currently available specific PAH therapy is discussed as well as future treatments.