Affiliation: UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, 160 Dental Circle, CB 7075, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7075, USA.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a panvasculopathy that affects the distal pulmonary arteries and leads to restricted blood flow. This increased afterload leads to adaptive mechanisms of the right ventricle, with eventual failure once it can no longer compensate. Pulmonary hypertension from associated conditions, most importantly left heart disease, i.e. heart failure, can also lead to the same sequela. Patients often experience early vague symptoms of dyspnea and exercise intolerance, and thus PH can elude clinicians until right heart failure symptoms predominate. Evidence-based treatment options with pulmonary vasodilators are available for those with PAH and should be employed early. It is essential that patients be accurately categorized by their etiology of PH, as treatment strategies differ, and can potentially be dangerous if employed in the wrong clinical scenario.