Background: It is unknown whether time-related changes of pulmonary hypertension (PH) have prognostic relevance in severe chronic heart failure (CHF).
Methods: All CHF patients referred for follow-up from 1996 through 2003 were screened for this study. Eligibility depended on availability of a concomitant clinical, laboratory, electrocardiographic (ECG), echocardiographic and right-heart catheterization (RHC) assessment at index evaluation, as well as absence of pre-capillary PH.
Results: One hundred ninety-six patients (age 54 +/- 9 years; 27% women, 73% men; 50% in New York Heart Association [NYHA] Class III or IV) were included. PH at index evaluation was an independent predictor of acute heart failure or cardiovascular death (AHF/CD), with adjusted risk ratio (RR) = 2.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.42 to 3.73 and p < 0.001. A pre-study (> or =6 months) RHC was available for 174 of the 196 patients. Worsening of mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) of > or =30% (a pre-specified cut-off corresponding to the 75th percentile of DeltamPAP%) provided prognostic information independent of all index-evaluation parameters (adjusted RR = 2.60, 95% CI 1.45 to 4.67, p = 0.001), and from time-related changes in the other hemodynamic parameters (p < or = 0.033).
Conclusions: PH retains independent prognostic significance even after adjusting for a large set of clinical/laboratory/instrumental parameters. Furthermore, serial measurements of mPAP seem to provide additional prognostic information as compared with a single assessment. These findings indicate that serial evaluations of PAP may help identify a sub-set of high-risk CHF patients deserving a particularly close follow-up to facilitate timely indications for non-pharmacologic strategies, including (when appropriate) heart transplantation.