BACKGROUND: Data on exercise pulmonary hemodynamics in healthy people and patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) are rare. We analyzed exercise right heart catheterization (RHC) data in a symptomatic collective referred with suspected PH to characterize the differential response by diagnostic groups, to correlate resting with exercise hemodynamics, and to evaluate safety.
METHODS: This is a retrospective single-center study reviewing data from patients in whom an exercise RHC was performed between January 2006 and January 2013. Patients with follow-up RHC under PH -therapy were excluded.
RESULTS: Data from 101 patients were analyzed, none of them had an adverse event. In 35% we detected a resting PH (27.8% precapillary, 6.9% postcapillary). Exercise PH (mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP) >30 mmHg at exercise) was found in 38.6%, whereas in 25.7% PH was excluded. We found a remarkable number of exercise PH in scleroderma patients, the majority being postcapillary. 83% of patients with mPAP-values between 20 and 24.9 mmHg at rest had exercise PH. Patients with resting PH had worse hemodynamics and were older compared with exercise PH ones.
CONCLUSION: In this real-life experience in symptomatic patients undergoing exercise RHC for suspected PH, we found that exercise RHC is safe. The facts that the vast majority of patients with mPAP-values between 20 and 24.9 mmHg at rest had exercise PH and the older age of patients with resting PH may indicate that exercise PH is a precursor of resting PH. Whether earlier treatment start in patients with exercise PH would stabilize the disease should be addressed in future studies.