Patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) can develop pulmonary hypertension (PH; mean pulmonary artery pressure ≥ 25 mm Hg) caused by pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), left ventricular disease, or pulmonary fibrosis. PAH is a pulmonary vascular disease, the diagnosis of which requires pulmonary capillary wedge pressure less than 15 mm Hg, pulmonary vascular resistance greater than 3 Wood Units, and exclusion of thromboembolism and parenchymal lung disease. Molecular mechanisms underlying PAH-SSc include activation of inflammatory and fibrogenic pathways in the vasculature and right ventricle. Circulating autoantibodies trigger endothelial damage and fibroblast activation. PAH most commonly occurs as a late complication in patients with limited cutaneous disease and anticentromere antibodies. Although echocardiography is a useful screening tool, heart catheterization is required to diagnose PAH before initiating therapy. Prognosis and therapeutic response are worse in PAH-SSc than in other PAH categories (median survival, 1-3 y). Approved therapies include prostacyclins, endothelin antagonists, and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. Research is needed to define disease mechanisms and develop effective therapies.
- Circulating autoantibodies
- Connective tissue disease
- Endothelin receptor antagonists
- Flolan (epoprostenol)
- Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors
- Pulmonary arterial hypertension