Impact of age on pulmonary artery systolic pressures at rest and with exercise

Echo Res Pract. 2016 Jun;3(2):53-61. doi: 10.1530/ERP-16-0006.


Aim: It is not well known if advancing age influences normal rest or exercise pulmonary artery pressures. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the association of increasing age with measurements of pulmonary artery systolic pressure at rest and with exercise.

Subjects and methods: A total of 467 adults without cardiopulmonary disease and normal exercise capacity (age range: 18-85 years) underwent symptom-limited treadmill exercise testing with Doppler measurement of rest and exercise pulmonary artery systolic pressure.

Results: There was a progressive increase in rest and exercise pulmonary artery pressures with increasing age. Pulmonary artery systolic pressures at rest and with exercise were 25±5mmHg and 33±9mmHg, respectively, in those <40 years, and 30±5mmHg and 41±12mmHg, respectively, in those ≥70 years. While elevated left-sided cardiac filling pressures were excluded by protocol design, markers of arterial stiffness associated with the age-dependent effects on pulmonary pressures.

Conclusion: These data demonstrate that in echocardiographically normal adults, pulmonary artery systolic pressure increases with advancing age. This increase is seen at rest and with exercise. These increases in pulmonary pressure occur in association with decreasing transpulmonary flow and increases in systemic pulse pressure, suggesting that age-associated blood vessel stiffening may contribute to these differences in pulmonary artery systolic pressure.

Keywords: pulmonary artery systolic pressure; stress echocardiography.