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Eur Respir Rev. 2012 Dec 1;21(126):313-20. doi: 10.1183/09059180.00005412.

Challenges in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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1
Pulmonary Vascular Diseases and Heart Failure Clinic, Cliniques Universitaires de Bruxelles, Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium. jvachier@ulb.ac.be

Abstract

Advances in the diagnosis and management of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) have resulted in significant improvements in outcomes for patients with this devastating and progressive disease. However, because of the non-specific nature of its symptoms, and the low level of suspicion among clinicians, prompt and accurate diagnosis of PAH as a rare disease remains a challenge. This article explains some of the issues that need to be addressed when faced with a patient with suspected PAH and describes how noninvasive and invasive techniques can be used effectively to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The availability of PAH-specific therapy means that once diagnosed, patients have a much greater chance of survival than they would have had in the past. However, despite improved survival, mortality is still high and, therefore, there is still room for improvement. It is currently recommended that patients with an inadequate clinical response to treatment receive sequential combination therapy; however, supportive data are still scarce. Although there is no clear explanation, these findings may be explained by the design and end-points chosen in clinical trials, the changing population of PAH and a need to improve the management strategy in this disease. Indeed, there is a clear need for randomised controlled studies that investigate whether adopting individualised treatment strategies, including upfront combination therapy, could help to optimise long-term management of patients with PAH.

PMID:
23204119
DOI:
10.1183/09059180.00005412
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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