Response of the right ventricle to acute pulmonary vasodilation predicts the outcome in patients with advanced heart failure and pulmonary hypertension

Am Heart J. 2003 Feb;145(2):310-6. doi: 10.1067/mhj.2003.146.


Objectives: This study was designed to assess whether testing of potential reversibility of pulmonary hypertension (PHT) may be a useful means of defining the short-term prognosis of patients with advanced heart failure and elevated pulmonary artery pressure. In such patients, the reversibility of PHT after acute vasodilator administration is associated with a low early mortality rate after heart transplantation. However, its short-term prognostic value has not yet been determined.

Methods and results: Between 1994 and 1998, 76 patients with advanced heart failure and PHT underwent right heart cathetherization. The hemodynamic measurements, including thermodilution-derived right ventricular ejection fraction, were repeated after an intravenous bolus of nitroglycerin (NTG). During a median follow-up period of 8.2 months (25% and 75% centiles, 3.3 and 18.9 months), 47 patients had a cardiac event (death or urgent heart transplantation). With Cox survival analysis, a multivariate model that included the New York Heart Association class and the hemodynamic variables obtained after NTG administration allowed a better assessement of the short-term prognosis of the patients than a model including the baseline variables. The evaluation of right ventricular function during the acute NTG-induced pulmonary vasodilation was of critical importance in obtaining such a refinement in the prognostic stratification.

Conclusions: The prognostic evaluation of patients with advanced heart failure and PHT should include the assessment of the changes of right ventricular ejection fraction after acute afterload reduction.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cardiac Catheterization / methods
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Transplantation
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / mortality
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitroglycerin / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Stroke Volume / drug effects
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vascular Resistance / drug effects
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / complications
  • Ventricular Function, Right / drug effects*
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitroglycerin