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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 1999 March;90(3):59-72

language: Italian

Pulmonary hypertension in rheumatic diseases

Manganelli P., Salaffi F., Carotti M., Delsante G., Mozzani F.


In rheumatic diseases (RD) pulmonary hypertension (PH) may result by either direct damage of the pulmonary arteries (isolated PH) or pulmonary interstitial fibrosis and other causes. PH is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in systemic sclerosis in which it is more frequently isolated in the limited cutaneous variant and secondary to interstitial fibrosis in the diffuse type. In isolated PH the main histopatological finding is an occlusive arteriopathy. The role of recurrent vasospasm (³lung Raynaud¹s phenomenon²) is still being debated. In systemic lupus erythematosus, although uncommon, PH is being increasingly reported and may recognize multiple etiological factors including vasoconstriction, vasculitis, in-situ pulmonary thrombosis or chronic recurrent thromboembolism. PH may be a severe and often fatal complication of mixed connective tissue disease and dermato/ polymyositis. PH may also be diagnosed in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, primary Sjögren¹s syndrome and primary antiphospholipid syndrome. Doppler echocardiography is the technique of choice for the evaluation of PH because it is nonivasive and allows serial determinations of the arterial pulmonary pressure. The therapy of PH associated with RD includes corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, calcium-antagonists, ACE-inhibitors, anticoagulants, O2, prostacyclin or its stable analogue, iloprost. Carefully selected patients may benefit from single lung or heart-lung transplantation.

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