Management of Acutely Decompensated Pulmonary Hypertension

Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2023 Dec;44(6):762-770. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-1770119. Epub 2023 Jun 27.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a severe life-threatening condition associated with increased pulmonary vascular resistance and resulting right heart dysfunction. Admission to intensive care unit with acutely decompensated right heart failure is a significant negative prognostic event with a high risk of multisystem organ dysfunction and death. Presentations are heterogenous and may combine signs of both diastolic and systolic dysfunction complicating management. Renal dysfunction is often present, but other organ systems can be involved resulting in findings such as acute hepatic dysfunction or bowel wall congestion and ischemia. The goals of therapy are to rapidly reverse ventriculo-arterial decoupling and reduce right ventricular afterload to prevent progression to refractory or irreversible right heart failure. Triggering events must be investigated for and addressed urgently if identified. Volume status management is critical and both noninvasive and invasive testing can aid in prognostication and guide management, including the use of inotropes and vasopressors. In cases of refractory right heart dysfunction, consideration of urgent lung transplantation and mechanical circulatory support is necessary. These patients should be managed at expert centers in an intensive care setting with a multidisciplinary team of practitioners experienced in the management of right heart dysfunction given the high short- and long-term mortality resulting from acute decompensated right heart failure.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care / methods
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary* / complications
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary* / diagnosis
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary* / therapy
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Lung Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right* / etiology
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right* / therapy