Classification and Predictors of Right Ventricular Functional Recovery in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Feb 16:2023.02.15.23285974. doi: 10.1101/2023.02.15.23285974.


Background: Normative changes in right ventricular (RV) structure and function have not been characterized in the context of treatment-associated functional recovery (RVFnRec). The aim of this study is to assess the clinical relevance of a proposed RVFnRec definition.

Methods: We evaluated 63 incident patients with PAH by right heart catheterization and cardiac MRI (CMR) at diagnosis and CMR and invasive cardiopulmonary exercise (CPET) following treatment (∼11 months). Sex, age, race/ethnicity matched healthy control subjects (n=62) with one-time CMR and non-invasive CPET were recruited from the PVDOMICS project. We examined therapeutic CMR changes relative to the evidence-based peak oxygen consumption (VO2 peak )>15mL/kg/min to define RVFnRec by receiver operating curve analysis. Afterload was measured in the as mean pulmonary artery pressure, resistance, compliance, and elastance.

Results: A drop in RV end-diastolic volume of -15 mL best defined RVFnRec (AUC 0.87, P=0.0001) and neared upper 95% CI RVEDV of controls. 22/63 (35%) of subjects met this cutoff which was reinforced by freedom from clinical worsening, RVFnRec 1/21 (5%) versus no RVFnRec 17/42, 40%, (log rank P=0.006). A therapy-associated increase of 0.8 mL/mmHg in compliance had the best predictive value of RVFnRec (AUC 0.76, CI 0.64-0.88, P=0.001). RVFnRec subjects had greater increases in stroke volume, and cardiac output at exercise.

Conclusions: RVFnRec defined by RVEDV therapeutic decrease of -15mL predicts exercise capacity, freedom from clinical worsening, and nears normalization. A therapeutic improvement of compliance is superior to other measures of afterload in predicting RVFnRec. RVFnRec is also associated with increased RV output reserve at exercise.

Clinical perspective: What is new?: Right ventricular functional recovery (RVFnRec) represents a novel endpoint of therapeutic success in PAH. We define RVFnRec as treatment associated normative RV changes related to function (peak oxygen consumption). Normative RV imaging changes are compared to a well phenotyped age, sex, and race/ethnicity matched healthy control cohort from the PVDOMICS project. Previous studies have focused on RV ejection fraction improvements. However, we show that changes in RVEDV are perhaps more important in that improvements in LV function also occur. Lastly, RVFnRec is best predicted by improvements in pulmonary artery compliance versus pulmonary vascular resistance, a more often cited metric of RV afterload.What are the clinical implications?: RVFnRec represents a potential non-invasive assessment of clinical improvement and therapeutic response. Clinicians with access to cardiac MRI can obtain a limited scan (i.e., ventricular volumes) before and after treatment. Future study should examine echocardiographic correlates of RVFnRec.

Publication types

  • Preprint