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      Updated Perspectives on Pulmonary Hypertension in COPD

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          Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a frequent and important complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It is associated with worse clinical courses with more frequent exacerbation episodes, shorter survival, and greater need of health resources. PH is usually of moderate severity and progresses slowly, without altering right ventricular function in the majority of cases. Nevertheless, a reduced subgroup of patients may present disproportionate PH, with pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) largely exceeding the severity of respiratory impairment. These patients may represent a group with an exaggerated vascular impairment (pulmonary vascular phenotype) to factors that induce PH in COPD or be patients in whom idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) coexist. The present review addresses the current definition and classification of PH in COPD, the distinction among the different phenotypes of pulmonary vascular disease that might present in COPD patients, and the therapeutic approach to PH in COPD based on the available scientific evidence.

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          Most cited references 50

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          Pulmonary arterial pressure during rest and exercise in healthy subjects: a systematic review.

          According to current guidelines, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is diagnosed when mean pulmonary arterial pressure (Ppa) exceeds 25 mmHg at rest or 30 mmHg during exercise. Issues that remain unclear are the classification of Ppa values 30 mmHg during exercise is always pathological. We performed a comprehensive literature review and analysed all accessible data obtained by right heart catheter studies from healthy individuals to determine normal Ppa at rest and during exercise. Data on 1,187 individuals from 47 studies in 13 countries were included. Data were stratified for sex, age, geographical origin, body position and exercise level. Ppa at rest was 14.0+/-3.3 mmHg and this value was independent of sex and ethnicity. Resting Ppa was slightly influenced by posture (supine 14.0+/-3.3 mmHg, upright 13.6+/-3.1 mmHg) and age ( or = 50 yrs: 14.7+/-4.0 mmHg). Ppa during exercise was dependent on exercise level and age. During mild exercise, Ppa was 19.4+/-4.8 mmHg in subjects aged or = 50 yrs (p<0.001). In conclusion, while Ppa at rest is virtually independent of age and rarely exceeds 20 mmHg, exercise Ppa is age-related and frequently exceeds 30 mmHg, especially in elderly individuals, which makes it difficult to define normal Ppa values during exercise.
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            Characterization of pulmonary vascular remodelling in smokers and patients with mild COPD.

            Intimal enlargement of pulmonary arteries is an early change in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The cellular and extracellular components that are involved in this enlargement are unknown. The present study was designed to characterize the structural changes occurring in pulmonary muscular arteries in the initial disease stages. Lung specimens from patients with moderate COPD (n=8; forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), 66 +/- 10% predicted) and smokers without airflow obstruction (n=7; FEV1, 86 +/- 6% pred), were investigated by histochemistry to characterize extracellular matrix proteins and by immunohistochemistry to identify intrinsic cells of the vascular wall. In both COPD patients and smokers, the majority of cells present in the enlarged intimas were stained by specific smooth muscle cell (SMC) markers. No staining with endothelial or fibroblast markers was shown. A proportion of SMCs did not stain with desmin, suggesting cellular heterogeneity in this population. Elastin was the most abundant extracellular matrix protein and collagen was seen in a lower proportion. The amount of collagen was related to the intimal thickness (p<0.001). The findings demonstrated smooth muscle cell proliferation, as well as elastin and collagen deposition, in the thickened intimas of pulmonary arteries in moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients and smokers, suggesting that these abnormalities may originate at an early stage in cigarette smoke-induced respiratory disease.
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              Severe pulmonary hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

              Severe pulmonary hypertension occurs occasionally in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but no detailed description of these patients is available. To identify and characterize patients with COPD and severe pulmonary hypertension. Retrospective study of 27 patients with COPD with severe pulmonary hypertension (pulmonary artery mean pressure [Ppa], > or = 40 mm Hg) among 998 patients who underwent right heart catheterization between 1990 and 2002 as part of a workup for chronic respiratory failure during a period of disease stability. Of the 27 patients, 16 had another disease capable of causing pulmonary hypertension. The remaining 11 (11 of 998, 1.1%) patients had COPD as the only cause of pulmonary hypertension, with a median Ppa of 48 mm Hg (interquartile range, 46-50). They had an unusual pattern of cardiopulmonary abnormalities with mild to moderate airway obstruction, severe hypoxemia, hypocapnia, and a very low diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (p < 0.01 compared with a control group of patients with COPD). Exertional dyspnea was more severe (p < 0.01) and survival was shorter (p = 0.0026) than in the control subjects. Severe pulmonary hypertension is uncommon in patients with COPD. When it occurs, another cause must be sought. COPD with severe pulmonary hypertension and no other possible cause shares features with pulmonary vascular diseases, such as idiopathic pulmonary hypertension.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                09 June 2020
                : 15
                : 1315-1324
                [1 ]Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Hospital Clínic-Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), University of Barcelona , Barcelona, Spain
                [2 ]Biomedical Research Networking Center on Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES) , Madrid, Spain
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Joan Albert Barberà Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Hospital Clínic , Villarroel 170, Barcelona08036, SpainTel +34-9322757 Email
                © 2020 Blanco et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 3, References: 54, Pages: 10


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