Rationale: The prevalence of HIV-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) has not been evaluated since introduction of combined, highly active antiretroviral treatments.
Objectives: To establish the current prevalence of PAH in a large HIV-positive population.
Methods: Prospective study conducted in 7,648 consecutive HIV-positive adults in 14 HIV clinics in France. PAH was identified through screening with a predefined algorithm. Patients with dyspnea unexplained by other causes underwent transthoracic Doppler echocardiography. PAH was suspected if peak velocity of tricuspid regurgitation was greater than 2.5 m/second and was confirmed by right heart catheterization.
Measurements and main results: PAH was diagnosed if mean pulmonary arterial pressure at rest was 25 mm Hg or greater (with pulmonary capillary wedge pressure < or = 15 mm Hg) or 30 mm Hg or greater on exercise. A total of 739 patients had dyspnea, of which 312 met exclusion criteria and 150 refused to participate. Among the remaining 277, 30 had known PAH and 247 had unexplained dyspnea and underwent echocardiography; PAH was suspected in 18 and confirmed in 5, to give a total of 35 cases. The prevalence was thus 0.46% (95% confidence interval, 0.32-0.64%). All new cases had relatively milder PAH.
Conclusions: The prevalence of HIV-associated PAH is about the same as it was in the early 1990s. Given the current good long-term prognosis of patients with HIV, the severity of PAH in HIV-infected patients, and the absence of predictive factors, careful screening for PAH is warranted for patients with unexplained dyspnea.