Causes of death in 99 patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension in UZ Leuven, Belgium 

Causes of death in 99 patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension in UZ Leuven, Belgium 

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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare and potentially fatal disease whose management is usually restricted to a few specialised centres. As patients do not necessarily live in the neighbourhood of these centres, daily care and emergencies have to be delegated to first and second lines. Treatment guidelines do not usually provide recommend...

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... [1] Precapillary, or pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), is further characterized by an increase in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) and normal pulmonary wedge pressure [1]. Despite recent progress in management, PAH still has poor prognosis, due to right heart failure, sudden cardiac death (SCD) or mechanical complications [1][2][3][4][5]. It is the main cause of pulmonary artery (PA) dilation [6], in turn leading to extrinsic compression of adjacent structures, most importantly the left main coronary artery (LMCA). ...
... It is the main cause of pulmonary artery (PA) dilation [6], in turn leading to extrinsic compression of adjacent structures, most importantly the left main coronary artery (LMCA). [1][2][3][4]. ...
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Objective Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) can lead to left main coronary artery compression (LMCo), but data on the impact, screening and treatment are limited. A meta-analysis of LMCo cases could fill the knowledge gaps in this topic. Methods Electronic databases were searched for all LMCo/PAH studies, abstracts and case reports including pulmonary artery (PA) size. Restricted maximum likelihood meta-analysis was used to evaluate LMCo-associated factors. Specificity, sensitivity and accuracy of PA size thresholds for diagnosis of LMCo were calculated. Treatment options and outcomes were summarized. Results A total of five case–control cohorts and 64 case reports/series (196 LMCo and 438 controls) were included. LMCo cases had higher PA diameter (Hedge’s g 1.46 [1.09; 1.82]), PA/aorta ratio (Hedge’s g 1.1 [0.64; 1.55]) and probability of CHD (log odds-ratio 1.22 [0.54; 1.9]) compared to non-LMCo, but not PA pressure or vascular resistance. A 40 mm cut-off for the PA diameter had balanced sensitivity (80.5%), specificity (79%) and accuracy (79.7%) for LMCo diagnosis, while a value of 44 mm had higher accuracy (81.7%), higher specificity (91.5%) but lower sensitivity (71.9%). Pooled mortality after non-conservative treatment (n = 150, predominantly stenting) was 2.7% at up to 22 months of mean follow-up, with 83% survivors having no angina at follow-up. Conclusion PA diameter, PA/aorta ratio and CHD are associated with LMCo, while hemodynamic parameters are not. Data from this study support that a PA diameter cut-off between 40 and 44 mm can offer optimal accuracy for LMCo screening. Preferred treatment was coronary stenting, associated with low mid-term mortality and symptom relief. Graphical abstract Diagnosis and management of left main coronary artery compression (LMCo) in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
... In large studies of PAH patients, the common causes of death were progressive heart failure (40%-49%), vascular complications (20%), and sudden cardiac death (SCD) (13%-26%). [1][2][3][4] SCD is generally attributed to ventricular tachyarrhythmia. A review of 13 papers on PAH showed a prevalence of 24% for ventricular arrhythmia. ...
Article
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) accounts for 15%–60% of mortality in patients with heart disease. Generally, this has been attributed to ventricular tachyarrhythmia. However, ventricular tachyarrhythmia has been documented or strongly suspected on clinical grounds in a relatively small proportion of SCD patients (8%–50%). Attempted prophylaxis of SCD by implantation of cardioverter-defibrillator is associated with variable success in different subsets of high-risk cardiac patients (30%–70%). A significant number of SCD, therefore, appear to be due to catastrophic circulatory failure. Multiple interdependent compensatory mechanisms help to maintain circulation in advanced cardiac disease. Rapid, unexpected, and massive breakdown of the compensated state can be precipitated by small and often imperceptible triggers. The initial critical but stable state followed by rapid circulatory failure and death has been considered to be analogous to snow avalanches. It is typically described in patients with left ventricular (LV) dysfunction (ischemic or nonischemic). It is now recognized that SCD can also happen in conditions where the right ventricle (RV) takes the brunt of the hemodynamic load. Advanced pulmonary arterial hypertension and operated patients of tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary regurgitation are of particular interest to pediatric cardiologists. A large amount of data is available on LV changes and mechanics, while relatively little information is available on the mechanisms of RV adaptation to increased load and RV failure. Whether the triggers and the decompensatory processes are similar for the two ventricles is a moot point. This article highlights the currently available knowledge on the pathophysiology of SCD in RV overload states, with special reference to RV adaptive and decompensatory mechanisms, and therapeutic measures that can potentially interrupt the vicious downward course (cardiac avalanches).
... Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) affects both females and males of any age, in which the increased pulmonary vascular resistance causes right heart failure and death. 8,9 The median survival for patients diagnosed with PAH has been reported to be 2.8 years from the time of diagnosis (3-year survival: 48%) if untreated. 10,11 Even with currently available therapies, only 58-75% of PAH patients survive for 3 years. ...
... and found that the pulmonary arterial walls of COVID-19 patients was 30% thicker than those of patients with H1N1 influenza. 8 We also noted the occurrence of pulmonary arterial wall thickening in lung histology images of patients who died of COVID-19 in China although authors did not mention this in their papers. 5,23 These observations in deceased patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and H1N1 influenza viruses indicate that pulmonary vascular wall thickening is a unique feature of the SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19. ...
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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is causing the current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that have killed over one million people worldwide so far. To date, over forty million people have officially been identified to be infected with this virus with less than 3 % death rate. Since many more people are expected to have been infected with this virus without the official diagnosis, the number of people who have recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 infection should be substantial. Given the large number of people recovered from either the mild SARS-CoV-2 infection or more severe COVID-19 conditions, it is critical to understand the long-term consequences of the infection by this virus. Our histological evaluations revealed that patients died of COVID-19 exhibited thickened pulmonary vascular walls, one important hallmark of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). By contrast, such pulmonary vascular remodeling lesions were not found in patients died of SARS-CoV-1 during the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak or due to the infection by H1N1 influenza. The advancement in the treatment for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been remarkable that HIV-infected individuals now live for a long time, in turn revealing that these individuals become susceptible to developing PAH, a fatal condition. We herein hypothesize that SARS-CoV-2 is another virus that is capable to triggering the increased susceptibility of infected individuals to developing PAH in the future. Given the large number of people being infected with SARS-CoV-2 during this pandemic and that most people recover from severe, mild or asymptomatic conditions, it is imperative to generate scientific information on how the health of recovered individuals may be affected long-term. PAH is one lethal consequence that should be considered and needs to be monitored. This may also foster the research on developing therapeutic agents to prevent PAH, which has not so far been successful.
... PAH is a fatal disease without a cure that can affect both males and females of any age, including children [12,13]. It is a progressive disease, and by the time patients are diagnosed, the thickening of the pulmonary vascular walls has often already occurred. ...
... It is a progressive disease, and by the time patients are diagnosed, the thickening of the pulmonary vascular walls has often already occurred. Increased resistance in the pulmonary circulation places strain on the right ventricle, which leads to right heart failure and death [12,13]. The median overall survival for patients with PAH is 2.8 years from the time of diagnosis (three-year survival: 48%) without treatment [14,15]. ...
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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is causing the current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and COVID-19 vaccines focus on its spike protein. However, in addition to facilitating the membrane fusion and viral entry, the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein promotes cell growth signaling in human lung vascular cells, and patients who have died of COVID-19 have thickened pulmonary vascular walls, linking the spike protein to a fatal disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). In addition to SARS-CoV spike proteins, gp120, the viral membrane fusion protein of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), has been reported to promote cell signaling, and long-term surviving HIV-positive patients have a high incidence of developing PAH. This article describes the findings of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein affecting lung vascular cells and explains how the spike protein possibly increases the incidence of PAH. Since the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein will be administered to millions of people as COVID-19 vaccines, it is critical to understand the biological effects of this protein on human cells to ensure that it does not promote long-term adverse health consequences.
... Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease that can affect both females and males of any age including children. If untreated, increased pulmonary vascular resistance results in right heart failure and kills patients within several years [1,2]. Even with the currently available therapeutic drugs that are mainly vasodilators, the survival duration of the patients remains unacceptably short [3,4]. ...
Chapter
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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease without a cure. By the time patients are diagnosed with PAH, thickening of pulmonary arterial (PA) walls and the narrowing of vascular lumen have already developed due to the abnormal growth of pulmonary vascular cells, contributing to the elevated pulmonary vascular resistance and the right ventricle (RV) damage. Therefore, agents that eliminate excess pulmonary vascular wall cells have therapeutic potential, and the apoptosis-based therapy using anti-cancer drugs may be promising for the treatment of PAH. However, cell death agents could also exert adverse effects including cardiotoxicity, complicating the development of such therapies for PAH patients who already have the damaged heart. We tested the concept that programmed cell death-inducing anti-cancer drugs may reduce the PA wall thickening using rat models of PAH. We found that: (i) The treatment of PAH animals with anthracycline-, proteasome inhibitor- or Bcl-2 inhibitor-classes of anti-cancer drugs after the pulmonary vascular remodeling had already developed resulted in the reversal of PA wall thickening and opened up the lumen; (ii) These effects were accompanied by the apoptosis of PA wall cells in PAH rats, but not in normal healthy rats, suggesting the anti-cancer drugs selectively kill remodeled vascular cells; (iii) The RV affected by PAH was not further damaged by anthracyclines or proteasome inhibitors; (iv) While the left ventricle (LV) was damaged by these drugs, we identified cardioprotective agents that protect the heart against drug-induced cell death without affecting the efficacy to reverse the PA remodeling; and (v) docetaxel, not only reversed pulmonary vascular remodeling without exerting RV or LV toxicity, but also repaired the RV damage caused by PAH. Thus, the inclusion of programmed cell death-inducing anti-cancer drugs should be considered for treating PAH patients.
... The major pathogenic features that increase the pulmonary vascular resistance in PAH include the vasoconstriction and the development of vascular remodeling, in which pulmonary artery (PA) walls are thickened and the lumens are narrowed or occluded. Increased resistance puts strain on the right ventricle (RV), and right heart failure is the major cause of death among PAH patients [3,4]. The median overall survival for patients diagnosed with PAH is 2.8 years from the time of diagnosis (3-year survival: 48%) if untreated [5,6]. ...
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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease without a cure. If untreated, increased pulmonary vascular resistance kills patients within several years due to right heart failure. Even with the currently available therapies, survival durations remain short. By the time patients are diagnosed with this disease, the damage to the right ventricle (RV) has already developed. Therefore, agents that repair the damaged RV have therapeutic potential. We previously reported that cardiac fibrosis that occurs in the RV of adult Sprague–Dawley rats with PAH could naturally be reversed. We herein investigated the mechanism of this remarkable cardiac repair process. Counting of cardiomyocytes showed that the elimination of cardiac fibrosis is associated with the increased RV myocyte number, suggesting that new cardiomyocytes were generated. Immunohistochemistry showed the expression of α-smooth muscle actin and Sox-2 in RV myocytes of rats with PAH. Transmission electron microscopy detected the structure that resembles maturing cardiomyocytes in both the RV of PAH rats and cultured cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. We propose that the damaged RV in PAH can be repaired by activating the cell reprogramming mechanism that converts resident cardiac fibroblasts into induced cardiomyocytes.
... The majority (47%) were due to right heart failure, 26% were classified as sudden death, and 27% were due to other causes. In the UZ, Leuven, Belgium registry, there were 99 deaths in a cohort of 316 PAH patients (50). Most deaths were due to right heart failure (N=32, 32%), although sudden death was reported in 18% of patients (N=18). ...
Article
Sudden cardiac death (SCD), or sudden loss of life-sustaining systemic and cerebral perfusion, is most often due to left ventricular (LV) dysfunction secondary to ischemic or structural cardiac disease or channelopathies. Degeneration of sinus rhythm into ventricular tachycardia and ultimately ventricular fibrillation is the final common pathway for most heart failure patients. Right ventricular (RV) dysfunction is recognized as an independent contributor to worsening heart failure. There is emerging evidence that RV dysfunction may also be an independent predictor of SCD. This review examines the role of RV dysfunction on modifying long term risk of SCD, and explores possible mechanisms that may underlie SCD. The RV has unique anatomy and physiology compared to the LV. Subsequently, we begin with a review of cardiac embryology, focusing on the chambers, valves, coronary arteries, and cardiac conduction system to understand the origins of RV dysfunction. Static and dynamic physiology of the RV is contrasted with that of the LV. Particular emphasis is placed on ventriculo-arterial coupling, mechanical cardiac constraint, and ventricular interdependence. The epidemiology of SCD is briefly reviewed to highlight how causes of SCD are age-specific. In turn, the age-specific causes of RV dysfunction are presented, including those which predominate in childhood and adolescence [arrhythmogenic RV dysplasia (ARVD) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)] and older adulthood (cardiac ischemia, chronic congestive heart failure and post-capillary pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary hypertension). There is a clear need for additional studies on the independent contribution of RV dysfunction to overall functional capacity, SCD-associated mortality, and non-SCD-associated mortality. Discovery would be aided by the development of prospective cohorts with excellent RV phenotyping, coupled with deeper biologic measurements linking mechanisms to clinically relevant outcomes.
... In some cases, congestion may be refractory of medical therapy and require ultrafiltration. Sodium restriction is a common clinical practice, although no large-scale studies have demonstrated benefit from this approach (73,74). ...
... Patients who are at high risk are recommended to be considered for lung transplantation. The European Respiratory Society pulmonary hypertension 2015 guidelines categorize patients as high risk if the mortality exceeds 10% on the current treatment over 1 year (73,112,(117)(118)(119)(120)(121). In an effort to decrease the death rate on the transplant waiting list, a lung allocation score has been implemented in the United States in May 2005 and subsequently revised in 2015 (122). ...
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Right heart dysfunction and failure is the principal determinant of adverse outcomes in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). In addition to right ventricular (RV) dysfunction, systemic congestion, increased afterload and impaired myocardial contractility play an important role in the pathophysiology of RV failure. The behavior of the RV in response to the hemodynamic overload is primarily modulated by the ventricular interaction and its coupling to the pulmonary circulation. The presentation can be acute with hemodynamic instability and shock or chronic producing symptoms of systemic venous congestion and low cardiac output. The prognostic factors associated with poor outcomes in hospitalized patients include systemic hypotension, hyponatremia, severe tricuspid insufficiency, inotropic support use and the presence of pericardial effusion. Effective therapeutic management strategies involve identification and effective treatment of the triggering factors, improving cardiopulmonary hemodynamics by optimization of volume to improve diastolic ventricular interactions, improving contractility by use of inotropes, and reducing afterload by use of drugs targeting pulmonary circulation. The medical therapies approved for PAH act primarily on the pulmonary vasculature with secondary effects on the right ventricle. Mechanical circulatory support as a bridge to transplantation has also gained traction in medically refractory cases. The current review was undertaken to summarize recent insights into the evaluation and treatment of RV dysfunction and failure attributable to PAH.
... 41 47 This possibility becomes more relevant in such cases where urgent consultations and first-line visits can only be attended by local non-PAH specialised health services. 48 The monitoring of clinical symptoms such as weight gain, light-headedness, hypotension, fainting episodes (syncope), chest pain and palpitations or increasing shortness of breath, either at rest, during daily exercise or during home-based pulmonary rehabilitation sessions, 49 could contribute to the prompt detection of clinical deterioration and early intervention. ...
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Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a severe chronic condition associated with poor quality of life and high risks of mortality and hospitalisation. The utilisation of novel diagnostic technologies has improved survival rates although the effectiveness of Electronic Health (eHealth) interventions in patients with a chronic cardiopulmonary disease remains controversial. As the effectiveness of eHealth can be established by specific evaluation for different chronic health conditions, the aim of this study was to explore and summarise the utilisation of eHealth in PAH. Method: We searched PubMed, CINAHL and Embase for all studies reporting clinical trials on eHealth solutions for the management of PAH. No limitations in terms of study design or date of publication were imposed. Results: 18 studies (6 peer-reviewed journal papers and 12 conference papers) were identified. Seven studies addressed the accuracy, safety or reliability of eHealth technologies such as intra-arterial haemodynamic monitoring of the pulmonary artery pressure, self-administered 6-Minute walk test App, computerised step-pulse oximeter and ambulatory impedance cardiography. Two studies evaluated eHealth as part of the medical management and showed a reduction in hospitalisation rate. Conclusions: The evidence of eHealth supporting the management of people with PAH is limited and only embraced through a few studies of small sample size and short-term duration. Given the proposed clinical benefits in heart failure, we postulate that the evaluation of eHealth for the clinical management of PAH is highly warranted.
... In this setting, the lack of strong evidence is added to the high surgical risk for PAH with up to a 25% mortality risk for cardiac surgery [89]. The risk of sudden cardiac death among PAH patients reaches 30% [90]. Although an increased PA diameter has been shown to be an independent risk factor for sudden cardiac death in PAH patients [8], there are no necropsy registries allowing for the confirmation of PA dissection being the main cause of sudden death in this population. ...
Article
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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease caused by pulmonary vascular remodeling. Current vasodilator treatments have substantially improved patients’ survival. This improved survival has led to the appearance of complications related to conditions previously underdiagnosed or even ignored, such as pulmonary artery aneurysm (PAA). The presence of a dilated pulmonary artery has been shown to be related to an increased risk of sudden cardiac death among PAH patients. This increased risk could be associated to the development of left main coronary artery compression or pulmonary artery dissection. Nevertheless, very little is currently known about the molecular mechanisms related to PAA. Thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) is a well-known condition with an increased risk of sudden death caused by acute aortic dissection. TAA may be secondary to chronic exposure to classic cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, a number of genetic variants have been shown to be related to a marked risk of TAA and dissection as part of multisystemic syndromes or isolated familial TAA. The molecular pathways implied in the development of TAA have been widely studied and described. Many of these molecular pathways are involved in the pathogenesis of PAH and could be involved in PAA. This review aims to describe all these common pathways to open new research lines that could help lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of PAH and PAA and their clinical implications.