The American journal of cardiology

When to initiate intravenous therapy and/or refer.

PMID 23558027


Intravenous (IV) prostacyclin (epoprostanol) and its analogs (iloprost and treprostinil) are effective in treating pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH). Although prostacyclins are available for inhaled and subcutaneous delivery, IV administration of prostacyclins, sometimes in combination with other agents, such as bosentan or sildenafil, is considered the most aggressive method to manage PAH. This report attempts to help clinicians determine when to initiate IV treatment of PAH and when to refer a patient with PAH to a center for treatment. IV prostacyclin therapy initiation is suggested when patients exhibit World Health Organization functional class IV symptoms. The Registry to EValuate Early And Long-term Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension disease management (REVEAL) risk calculator can help determine a patient's 1-year mortality with PAH and characterize the clinical course, treatment, and predictors of outcomes in patients with PAH. Referring physicians can screen their patients for PAH and refer even before the diagnosis has been confirmed so that the center can facilitate the diagnostic process and provide suggestions for initial therapy selection and provide other collaborative and supportive services. Alternatively, the physician can diagnose and initiate early therapy with a plan to involve the pulmonary hypertension center at the need for IV therapy or consideration for transplantation, working closely with the patient to ensure stability. Physicians and pulmonary centers must develop good methods of communication to ensure effective diagnosis and management.