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Pulmonary hypertension associated with COPD

Authors Elwing J, Panos RJ 

Published 7 March 2008 Volume 2008:3(1) Pages 55—70


Jean Elwing, Ralph J Panos

Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Division, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati Medical School, Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, Department of Internal Medicine, Cincinnati VAMC, Cincinnati, OH, USA

Abstract: Although the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension (PH) in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not known precisely, approximately 10%–30% of patients with moderate to severe COPD have elevated pulmonary pressures. The vast majority of PH associated with COPD is mild to moderate and severe PH occurs in <5% of patients. When COPD is associated with PH, both mortality and morbidity are increased. There are no clinical or physical examination findings that accurately identify patients with underlying PH. Radiographic imaging findings are specific but not sensitive indicators of PH. Echocardiography is the principle noninvasive diagnostic test but may be technically limited in a significant proportion of patients with COPD. Right heart catheterization is required for accurate measurement of pulmonary pressures. The combined effects of inflammation, endothelial cell dysfunction, and angiogenesis appear to contribute to the development of PH associated with COPD. Systemic vasodilators have not been found to be effective therapy. Selective pulmonary vasodilators including inhaled nitric oxide and phosphodiesterase inhibitors are promising treatments for patients with COPD associated PH but further evaluation of these medications is needed prior to their routine use.

Keywords: COPD, pulmonary hypertension

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