Definition, classification, and epidemiology of pulmonary arterial hypertension

Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 Aug;30(4):369-75. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1233306. Epub 2009 Jul 24.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a distinct subgroup of pulmonary hypertension that comprises idiopathic PAH, familial/heritable forms, and PAH associated with connective tissue disease, congenital heart disease, portal hypertension, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and some other conditions. The hemodynamic definition of PAH was recently revised: PAH is now defined by a mean pulmonary artery pressure at rest > or =25 mm Hg in the presence of a pulmonary capillary wedge pressure < or =15 mm Hg. The exercise criterion (mean pulmonary artery pressure > or =30 mm Hg during exercise) that was used in the old definition of PAH has been removed because there are no robust data that would allow defining an upper limit of normal for the pulmonary pressure during exercise. The revised classification of pulmonary hypertension still consists of five major groups: (1) PAH, (2) pulmonary hypertension due to left heart disease, (3) pulmonary hypertension due to chronic lung disease and/or hypoxia, (4) chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, and (5) miscellaneous forms. Modifications have been made in some of these groups, such as the addition of schistosomiasis-related pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary hypertension in patients with chronic hemolytic anemia to group 1.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / classification
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Wedge Pressure