, Volume 19, Issue 12, pp 514-522,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension: an update

Abstract

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), defined as group 1 of the World Heart Organisation (WHO) classification of pulmonary hypertension, is an uncommon disorder of the pulmonary vascular system. It is characterised by an increased pulmonary artery pressure, increased pulmonary vascular resistance and specific histological changes. It is a progressive disease finally resulting in right heart failure and premature death. Typical symptoms are dyspnoea at exercise, chest pain and syncope; furthermore clinical signs of right heart failure develop with disease progression. Echocardiography is the key investigation when pulmonary hypertension is suspected, but a reliable diagnosis of PAH and associated conditions requires an intense work-up including invasive measurement by right heart catheterisation. Treatment includes general measures and drugs targeting the pulmonary artery tone and vascular remodelling. This advanced medical therapy has significantly improved morbidity and mortality in patients with PAH in the last decade. Combinations of these drugs are indicated when treatment goals of disease stabilisation are not met. In patients refractory to medical therapy lung transplantation should be considered an option.