Pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Bottom Line: 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).In addition, currently available specific PAH therapy is discussed as well as future treatments.
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.
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Mentions: A clear-cut differentiation between pre-and post-capillary pulmonary vascular lesions is sometimes difficult to make: lesions frequently concern veins and arteries in lungs of patients with PVOD, and vice-versa veins may be strongly involved in some subgroups of PAH. This is not contradictory because the clinical approach to ‘difficult-to-treat’ PAH-groups may be similar to clinical management of PVOD and PVOD-patients are frequently treated – under great precaution – with pulmonary arterial dilators, e.g. prostanoids. Recent reports, for example, indicate that CTD associated PAH, classically being considered as pre-capillary PH, simultaneously displays a PVOD-like pattern in histology [178,179]. Like in PVOD, the observed post-capillary lesions concern septal veins and pre-septal venules and usually consist of a loose and pauci-cellular and cushion-like intimal fibrosis that may totally occlude the lumen. A muscularization of both, septal veins and pre-septal venules may be observed (Figure 3A, B). Importantly, occult pulmonary hemorrhage regularly occurs in patients displaying PVOD. This particularity, which is certainly due to the post-capillary bloc, is of diagnostic importance, as bronchio-alveolar lavage can reveal an occult hemorrhage. The degree of hemorrhage can be evaluated semi-quantitatively and qualitatively using the Golde Score, which takes number and Perls-Prussian-Blue staining-degree of intra-alveolar siderophages into consideration (Figure 3C) . Pulmonary capillary hemangiomatosis has been historically described as an aggressive capillary proliferation with patchy distribution within the pulmonary parenchyma: alveolar septa are thickened by 3 to 4 capillary layers, and infiltration of venous and bronchiolar structures with secondary occlusion may be present (Figure 3D). It is thought, that a clinically relevant post-capillary bloc is owed to this angiomatoid expansion. Occult hemorrhage or hemosiderosis, therefore, is frequently found . However, Lantuejoul and co-workers have shown in a remarkable retrospective histological analysis, that capillary hemangiomatosis-pattern is virtually always present in PVOD, and vein-remodelling is constantly observed in case with a primary diagnosis of PCH . The authors suggest the possibility, that PVOD and PCH might be the same disease, with a vein- or a capillary-predominating pattern. We fully support this view, and in our experience from the French National PH Reference Center, no clinical distinction is made between both conditions.