Long-term response to calcium channel blockers in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension

Olivier Sitbon, Marc Humbert, Xavier Jaïs, Vincent Ioos, Abdul M Hamid, Steeve Provencher, Gilles Garcia, Florence Parent, Philippe Hervé, Gérald Simonneau
Circulation 2005 June 14, 111 (23): 3105-11

BACKGROUND: Characteristics of patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) who benefit from long-term calcium channel blockers (CCB) are unknown.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Acute pulmonary vasodilator testing with epoprostenol or nitric oxide was performed in 557 IPAH patients. Acute responders, defined by a fall in both mean pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) and pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) >20%, received long-term oral CCB. Patients who benefit from long-term CCB were defined as those being in New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class I or II after at least 1 year on CCB monotherapy. Among the 70 patients who displayed acute pulmonary vasoreactivity (12.6%; 95% CI, 9.8% to 15.3%) and received CCB therapy, only 38 showed long-term improvement (6.8%; 95% CI, 4.7% to 8.9%). Long-term CCB responders had less severe disease at baseline than patients who failed. During acute vasodilator testing, long-term CCB responders displayed a more pronounced fall in mean PAP (-39+/-11% versus -26+/-7%; P<0.0001), reaching an absolute value of mean PAP lower than that measured in patients who failed (33+/-8 versus 46+/-10 mm Hg; P<0.0001). After 7.0+/-4.1 years, all but 1 long-term CCB responders were alive in NYHA class I or II, with a sustained hemodynamic improvement. In the group of patients who failed on CCB, the 5-year survival rate was 48%.

CONCLUSIONS: Long-term CCB responders represent <10% of IPAH patients evaluated in a pulmonary vascular referral center. During acute vasodilator testing, these patients showed significantly lower levels of both mean PAP and PVR, which reached near-normal values.

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