Researchers Identify Method to Help Detect Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension in Systemic Sclerosis Patients

According to a story from Pulmonary Hypertension News, a recent study has determined that cardiopulmonary exercise testing can be an effective method to help identify systemic sclerosis patients that are also suffering from pulmonary arterial hypertension. Systemic sclerosis is a major risk factor for the development of the condition. Diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension is often conducted with an invasive right heart catheter, but the researchers wanted to discover a less invasive method for diagnosis.

About Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs is abnormally high. The arteries in the lungs are often inflamed. Symptoms of this condition include rapid heartbeat, poor exercise tolerance, shortness of breath, fainting, leg swelling, fatigue, and chest pain. Treatment may include a number of medications and surgical operations, including lung transplant. A transplant can cure the condition, but it can cause many complications. Click here to learn more about pulmonary arterial hypertension.

About Systemic Sclerosis

Systemic sclerosis, which is also referred to as scleroderma, describes a group of autoimmune diseases that can cause system-wide effects in the most severe cases. The mechanism of this disease is believed to be an autoimmune response in which the immune system mistakenly attacks body tissue. Symptoms are broad ranging and systemic, including kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, stroke, headaches, facial pain, congestive heart failure, skin abnormalities, high blood pressure, chest pain, indigestion, and many more. Treatments are varied and depend on the symptoms, but most patients take medications in an attempt to suppress the autoimmune response. To learn more about systemic sclerosis, click here.

Improving Detection and Diagnosis

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing alone is not sufficient to diagnose pulmonary arterial hypertension, but it is a critical component when used alongside a special algorithm. This algorithm was able to detect the condition, but its false positive rate was so great that it could not be put to use on its own. However, the addition of testing data to the algorithm turned out to make it more accurate. 

The study looked at 314 systemic sclerosis patients over a period of 30 months. They were screened for pulmonary arterial hypertension using the algorithm, which identified 54 potential hypertension patients. These patients then went for cardiopulmonary exercise testing and right heart catheterization. The further testing identified 17 patients. The scientists then utilized statistics models in order to determine what parameters from the exercise test could predict the condition. 

The resulting model was able to predict pulmonary arterial hypertension with 87 percent accuracy. While far from perfect, the authors concluded that the combination of cardiopulmonary exercise testing and the algorithm could be a useful tool for predicting the presence of the condition.

For more detailed info about this study, click here.

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