Chronic thromboembolic disease is characterised by persistent pulmonary thromboembolic occlusions without pulmonary hypertension. Early surgical treatment with pulmonary endarterectomy may improve symptoms and prevent disease progression. We sought to assess the outcome of pulmonary endarterectomy in symptomatic patients with chronic thromboembolic disease. Patients with symptomatic chronic thromboembolic disease and a mean pulmonary artery pressure <25 mmHg at baseline with right heart catheterisation and treated with pulmonary endarterectomy between January 2000 and July 2013 were identified. Patients were reassessed at 6 months and at 1 year following surgery. A total of 42 patients underwent surgery and the median length of stay in hospital was 11 days. There was no in-hospital mortality but complications occurred in 40% of patients. At 1 year, following surgery, 95% of the patients remained alive. There was a significant symptomatic improvement with 95% of patients in the New York Heart Association functional classes I or II at 6 months. There was a significant improvement in quality of life assessed by the Cambridge pulmonary hypertension outcome review questionnaire. In this carefully selected cohort of chronic thromboembolic disease patients, pulmonary endarterectomy resulted in significant improvement in symptoms and quality of life. Appropriate patient selection is paramount given the known surgical morbidity and mortality, and surgery should only be performed in expert centres.
The 6 minutes walk test (6MWT) is often shown to be the best predictor of mortality in pulmonary hypertension (PH) probably because it challenges the failing heart to deliver adequate cardiac output. We hypothesised that the 6MWT elicits maximal cardiac output as measured during a maximal cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET).
The past decade has seen increased application of 18-flurodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ((18)FDG-PET) imaging to help diagnose and monitor disease, particularly in oncology, vasculitis and atherosclerosis. Disordered glycolytic metabolism and infiltration of plexiform lesions by inflammatory cells has been described in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). We hypothesized that increased (18)FDG uptake may be present in the lungs, large pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of patients with pulmonary hypertension, and that this uptake would be related to markers of immune activation. We imaged the thorax of 14 patients with pulmonary hypertension (idiopathic and chronic thromboembolic) and six controls by (18)FDG-PET/computed tomography (CT) and measured uptake in the lung parenchyma, large pulmonary arteries and right ventricle. (18)FDG uptake in the lungs and pulmonary arteries was normalized for venous blood activity to give a target-to-background ratio (TBR). Blood was contemporaneously drawn for high-sensitivity CRP - C-reactive protein (CRP) (hsCRP), N-Terminal Probrain natriuteric peptide (NT-ProBNP) and other inflammatory cytokines. IPAH patients had significantly higher lung parenchymal TBR (P=0.034) and right ventricle FDG uptake (P=0.007) than controls. Uptake in the main pulmonary arteries was similar in chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, IPAH and controls. There were no correlations between (18)FDG uptake and hsCRP or inflammatory cytokine levels. NT-ProBNP correlated with RV uptake in those with pulmonary hypertension (r=0.55, P=0.04). In this pilot study, we found increased (18)FDG uptake in the lung parenchyma and right ventricle of subjects with IPAH. The lung uptake might be useful as a surrogate marker of increased cellular metabolism and immune activation as underlying mechanisms in this disease. Further evaluation of the impact of targeted therapies in treatment-naïve patients and the significance of right ventricular uptake is suggested.
N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) is a product of cleavage of the cardiac prohormone pro B-type natriuretic peptide into its active form. It has proven to be a useful biomarker in left heart failure. However, studies examining the utility of serial measurements of NT-proBNP in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) patients have shown mixed results. We compared three methods of predicting adverse clinical outcomes in PAH patients: the change in 6 minute walk distance (6MWD), the change in absolute levels of NT-proBNP and the change in log-transformed levels of NT-proBNP. All PAH patients presenting from March-June 2007 were screened. Patients who were clinically unstable, had abnormal renal function or hemoglobin levels or lacked a prior NT-proBNP were excluded. 63 patients were followed up for adverse clinical outcomes (defined as death, transplantation, hospitalisation for right heart failure, or need for increased therapy). Three methods were used to predict adverse events, i.e.: (a) comparing a 6MWD performed in March-June 2007 and a previous 6MWD. A decrease in 6MWD of ?30m was used to predict clinical deterioration; (b) comparing a NT-proBNP value measured in March-June 2007 and a previous NT-proBNP. An increase in NT-proBNP of ?250pg/ml was used to predict clinical deterioration (250pg/ml represented approximately 30% change from the baseline median value of NT-proBNP for this cohort); and (c) comparing the loge equivalents of two consecutive NT-proBNP values. We used the formula: loge(current NT-proBNP) - loge(previous NT-proBNP)=x. A value of x?+0.26 was used to predict adverse events. This is equivalent to a 30% change from baseline, and hence is comparable to the chosen cut-off for absolute levels of NT-proBNP. A loge difference of ?+0.26 identifies patients at risk of adverse events with a specificity of 98%, a sensitivity of 60%, a positive predictive value of 89%, and a negative predictive value of 90%. A drop in 6MWD of ?30m has a specificity of 29%, a sensitivity of 73%, a positive predictive value of 24% and a negative predictive value of 24%. It seems possible to risk-stratify apparently stable PAH patients by following the changes in their serial log-transformed NT-proBNP values. In this small pilot study, this method was better than relying on changes in the actual levels of NT-proBNP or changes in 6MWD. This needs to be validated prospectively in a larger cohort.
Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) is often a sequel of venous thromboembolism with fatal natural history; however, many cases can be cured by pulmonary endarterectomy. The clinical characteristics and current management of patients enrolled in an international CTEPH registry was investigated.
Anaemia is common in left heart failure and is associated with a poorer outcome. Many patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) are anaemic or iron-deficient. This study was performed to investigate the prevalence of iron deficiency in PAH and to identify possible causes.
Inflammation is a feature of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and increased circulating levels of cytokines are reported in patients with PAH. However, to date, no information exists on the significance of elevated cytokines or their potential as biomarkers. We sought to determine the levels of a range of cytokines in PAH and to examine their impact on survival and relationship to hemodynamic indexes.
Relative area change (RAC) of the proximal pulmonary artery is a measurement of pulmonary artery distensibility and has been shown to correlate with vasoreactivity studies in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. We have previously noted a relationship between invasive hemodynamic vasoreactivity testing and long-term response to sildenafil in patients with inoperable chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). We therefore set out to determine whether RAC can provide useful correlatory non-invasive data.
Beyond their role as innate immune effectors, natural killer (NK) cells are emerging as important regulators of angiogenesis and vascular remodeling. Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by severe pulmonary vascular remodeling and has long been associated with immune dysfunction. Despite this association, a role for NK cells in disease pathology has not yet been described.
We previously reported that osteoprotegerin (OPG) is regulated by pathways associated with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and is present at elevated levels within pulmonary vascular lesions and sera from patients with idiopathic PAH (IPAH). Since OPG is a naturally secreted protein, we investigated the relationship between serum OPG and disease severity and outcome in patients with IPAH and animal models. OPG mRNA expression was measured in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) from pulmonary arteries of patients with and without IPAH. Serum concentrations of OPG were measured in a retrospective and prospective group of patients. OPG levels were compared with phenotypic data and other putative PAH biomarkers. Prognostic significance was assessed and levels compared with healthy controls. Correlation of OPG and pulmonary vascular remodeling was also performed in rodent models of PAH. OPG mRNA was significantly increased 2-fold in PASMC isolated from explanted PAH lungs compared with control. Serum OPG concentrations were markedly elevated in IPAH compared with controls. In Cohort 1 OPG levels significantly correlated with mean right atrial pressure and cardiac index, while in Cohort 2 significant correlations existed between age-adjusted OPG levels and gas transfer. In both cohorts an OPG concentration above a ROC-derived threshold of 4728 pg/ml predicted poorer survival. In two rodent models, OPG correlated with the degree of pulmonary vascular remodeling. OPG levels are significantly elevated in patients with idiopathic PAH and are of prognostic significance. The role of OPG as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target merits further investigation.
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