Primary pulmonary hypertension: improved long-term effects and survival with continuous intravenous epoprostenol infusion

S M Shapiro, R J Oudiz, T Cao, M A Romano, X J Beckmann, D Georgiou, S Mandayam, L E Ginzton, B H Brundage
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 1997, 30 (2): 343-9

OBJECTIVES: This study sought to determine the long-term effects of continuous infusion of epoprostenol (epo) therapy on survival and pulmonary artery pressure in patients with primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH).

BACKGROUND: PPH is a progressive disease for which there are few effective therapies.

METHODS: Patients with PPH and New York Heart Association functional class III or IV symptoms of congestive heart failure underwent right heart catheterization and Doppler-echocardiography to measure the maximal systolic pressure gradient between the right ventricle and right atrium (delta P) and cardiac output (CO). Doppler-echocardiography and catheterization data were compared. Patients were followed up long term with Doppler-echocardiography.

RESULTS: Of 69 patients who went on to receive epo, 18 were followed up for > 330 days (range 330 to 700). During long-term follow-up, there was a significant reduction in delta P, which decreased from 84.1 +/- 24.1 to 62.7 +/- 18.2 (mean +/- SD, p < 0.01). A Kaplan-Meier plot of survival of our study patients demonstrated improved survival compared with that of historical control subjects. The 1-, 2- and 3-year survival rates for our patients were 80% (n = 36), 76% (n = 22) and 49% (n = 6) compared with 10- (88%, n = 31), 20- (56%, n = 27) and 30-month (47%, n = 17) survival rates in historical control subjects.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients receiving continuous infusion of epo for treatment of PPH experience a decrease in pulmonary artery pressure. Long-term follow-up of this single-center patient group demonstrated improved long-term survival during epo therapy compared with that in historical control subjects and confirms predicted improved outcomes based on shorter follow-up periods.

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