BACKGROUND: Arterial and thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (PH) lead to arterial hypoxaemia.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether cerebral tissue oxygenation (CTO) in patients with PH is reduced and whether this is associated with reduced exercise tolerance.
METHODS: 16 patients with PH (mean pulmonary arterial pressure ≥25 mmHg, 14 arterial, 2 chronic thromboembolic) and 15 controls underwent right heart catheterisation with monitoring of CTO at rest, during maximal bicycle exercise and during inhalation of oxygen and NO. The 6 min walk distance (6MWD) was measured.
RESULTS: Median CTO in PH-patients at rest was 62 % (quartiles 53; 71), during exercise 60 % (53; 65); corresponding values in controls were 65 % (73; 73) (P = NS) and 68 % (66; 70) (p = .013 vs. PH). Inhalation of NO and oxygen improved CTO in PH. In multivariate regression analysis CTO at maximal exercise predicted the work load achieved when controlled for age, pulmonary vascular resistance and mixed venous oxygen saturation (R (2) = .419, p < .000); in addition, the 6MWD was predicted by CTO (adjusted R (2) = .511, p < .000).
CONCLUSION: In PH-patients but not in controls CTO decreased during exercise. Since CTO was an independent predictor of the work load achieved and the 6MWD cerebral hypoxia may contribute to exercise limitation in PH. Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01463514.