Steps forward in the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension: latest developments and clinical opportunities

Jessica B Badlam, Todd M Bull
Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease 2017, 8 (2-3): 47-64
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a chronic disease that results in narrowing of the small pre-capillary pulmonary arteries leading to elevation of pulmonary artery pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance, subsequent right ventricular failure, and if unchecked, death. Advances in the treatment of PAH over the last two decades have markedly improved survival. These improvements reflect a combination of changes in treatments, improved patient care strategies, and varying disease phenotypes in the PAH population. Currently approved therapies for PAH are directed at the recognized abnormalities within the pulmonary vasculature and include endothelin receptor antagonists, phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, soluble guanylate cyclase stimulators, and prostacyclin pathway agents. Most of these drugs have been approved on the basis of short-term trials that mainly demonstrated improvements in exercise capacity. More recently, long-term, event-driven trials of novel drugs have been performed, demonstrating new efficacy parameters. There have also been exciting advances in the understanding of right heart failure pathophysiology in PAH that have the potential to inspire the development of right ventricular targeted therapy and continued discoveries in the heterogeneity of disease and response to treatment has great potential for developing more 'personalized' therapeutic options. In this article, we review the current available data regarding the management of PAH, with an emphasis on the pharmacologic therapies and discussion of novel therapeutic directions for the treatment of this fatal disease.

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