Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a devastating illness of pulmonary vascular remodeling, right-sided heart failure, and limited survival. Whether strain-based measures of right ventricular (RV) systolic function predict future right-sided heart failure and/or death is untested.
Methods: RV longitudinal systolic strain and strain rate were evaluated by echocardiography in 80 patients with World Health Organization group 1 pulmonary hypertension (PH) (72% were functional class [FC] III or IV). Survival status was assessed over 4 years.
Results: All patients had a depressed RV systolic strain (-15% ± 5%) and strain rate (-0.80 ± 0.29 s(-1)). Of the parameters assessed, average RV free wall systolic strain worse than -12.5% identified a cohort with greater severity of disease (82% were FC III/IV), greater RV systolic dysfunction (RV stroke volume index 26 ± 9 mL/m(2)), and higher right atrial pressure (12 ± 5 mm Hg). Patients with an RV free wall strain worse than -12.5% were associated with a greater degree of disease progression within 6 months, a greater requirement for loop diuretics, and/or a greater degree of lower extremity edema, and it also predicted 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-year mortality (unadjusted 1-year hazard ratio, 6.2; 2.1-22.3). After adjusting for age, sex, PH cause, and FC, patients had a 2.9-fold higher rate of death per 5% absolute decline in RV free wall strain at 1 year.
Conclusions: Noninvasive assessment of RV longitudinal systolic strain and strain rate independently predicts future right-sided heart failure, clinical deterioration, and mortality in patients with PAH.