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Pulm Circ. 2011 Jan-Mar;1(1):95-102. doi: 10.4103/2045-8932.78104.

Doppler-defined pulmonary hypertension in medical intensive care unit patients: Retrospective investigation of risk factors and impact on mortality.

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Department of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is poorly characterized in the critically ill. No prior studies describe the burden of or outcomes associated with PH in a general medical intensive care unit population. We hypothesize that PH is an important comorbidity prevalent in the modern medical intensive care unit. We undertook a preliminary investigation to define the consequences of Doppler-defined PH in the critically ill. A single-center retrospective case-control study of medical intensive care patients admitted over a 1-year period was conducted. Eligible patients had an echocardiogram within 4 days of admission. PH was defined to include both pulmonary arterial and venous hypertension and required a tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity ≥3 m/sec. Cases and controls were compared for comorbidities, illness severity, diagnoses, and mortality. Multivariable regression was performed to identify clinical features associated with PH and mortality. 299 (21% of admissions) patients had an eligible echocardiogram. Patients with PH (N=126) had a higher unadjusted mortality than did controls (N=173) (37% vs. 25%, P=0.04) and PH remained significantly associated with mortality after controlling for other clinical factors (HR=1.59, 95% CI=1.03-2.44, P=0.036). Low ejection fraction (OR=2.21, 95% CI=1.19-4.11, P=0.012) and pulmonary embolism (OR=4.28, 95% CI=1.59-11.5, P=0.004) were independently associated with PH. Doppler-defined PH is associated with mortality in the critically ill. Prospective studies are needed to define the prevalence of pulmonary venous hypertension versus pulmonary arterial hypertension, and the clinical consequences of each, in a general medical intensive care unit population.


Critical illness; echocardiography; pulmonary arterial hypertension; pulmonary venous hypertension

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