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Narrative Review

Vol. 20 No. 1 (2022)

Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension: How to Define, Diagnose, and Treat At-Risk Patients

May 25, 2021


Introduction Pulmonary hypertension is a devastating disease with a rapid progression of symptoms leading to high patient mortality. It is characterized by high blood pressure in the pulmonary vasculature and poor pulmonary perfusion, resulting in patient fatigue, dyspnea, and syncope, especially upon physical exertion. A sub-clinical form of pulmonary hypertension also exists which is referred to as exercise induced pulmonary hypertension, where patients display normal resting hemodynamic properties but abnormal pulmonary responses to exercise.

Discussion Recent evidence suggests early intervention and treatment of pulmonary hypertension can improve patient outcomes. However, there is a lack of clinical evidence supporting effective treatments for exercise induced pulmonary hypertension (EIPH), arguably the earliest stage of pulmonary hypertension. This is due in part to the removal of EIPH from official guidelines such as the European Respiratory Society in 2008. EIPH was removed from clinical guidelines due to a lack of consensus on the definition and standardized testing procedures for diagnosing EIPH. Emerging evidence suggests that exercise testing following a standardized protocol of stress echocardiography or right heart catheterization of patients may allow for the classification of EIPH as a mean pulmonary artery pressure/cardiac output slope > 3 mmHg/L/min, and/or mean pulmonary artery pressure > 30 mmHg with a pulmonary vascular resistance > 3 Wood Units.

Conclusion Providing evidence for a consensus definition of EIPH, along with a validated, standardized testing procedure, will hopefully foster the progression of research on EIPH and further the development of treatments and improve patient outcomes for people with pulmonary hypertension.


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