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Screening patients with scleroderma for pulmonary arterial hypertension and implications for other at-risk populations

Author(s): Johannes P. Schwaiger | Dinesh Khanna | J. Gerry Coghlan

Journal: European Respiratory Review
ISSN 0905-9180

Volume: 22;
Issue: 130;
Start page: 515;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive vasculopathy that is advanced by the time symptoms develop. As symptoms are nonspecific and the condition uncommon, continued progression toward end-stage disease occurs for an average of 2 years between symptom onset and diagnosis. There is need for earlier diagnosis and treatment, as most patients are severely symptomatic when diagnosed and their mortality is high despite therapy. Screening can help; however, it is not straightforward due to the diversity of patient profiles and lack of sufficiently accurate tools. Echocardiography, currently the best available screening tool, lacks both sensitivity and specificity. The low prevalence of PAH renders many screening tools unfit for purpose. However, this may be overcome, in some instances, by using enrichment tools to preselect screening populations. The majority of data are available for systemic sclerosis. A recent study has demonstrated how lung function can be used to enrich PAH prevalence in a systemic sclerosis population. A screening bundle then selects patients for right heart catheterisation with improved rates of sensitivity compared to current guidelines.

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