The adrenergic system in pulmonary arterial hypertension: bench to bedside (2013 Grover Conference series)


In heart failure with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (HFrEF), adrenergic activation is a key compensatory mechanism that is a major contributor to progressive ventricular remodeling and worsening of heart failure. Targeting the increased adrenergic activation with β-adrenergic receptor blocking agents has led to the development of arguably the single most effective drug therapy for HFrEF. The pressure-overloaded and ultimately remodeled/failing right ventricle (RV) in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is also adrenergically activated, which raises the issue of whether an antiadrenergic strategy could be effectively employed in this setting. Anecdotal experience suggests that it will be challenging to administer an antiadrenergic treatment such as a β-blocking agent to patients with established moderate-severe PAH. However, the same types of data and commentary were prevalent early in the development of β-blockade for HFrEF treatment. In addition, in HFrEF approaches have been developed for delivering β-blocker therapy to patients who have extremely advanced heart failure, and these general principles could be applied to RV failure in PAH. This review examines the role played by adrenergic activation in the RV faced with PAH, contrasts PAH-RV remodeling with left ventricle remodeling in settings of sustained increases in afterload, and suggests a possible approach for safely delivering an antiadrenergic treatment to patients with RV dysfunction due to moderate-severe PAH.

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Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Right Heart Failure


Michael R. Bristow, Robert A. Quaife

Published in:

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 3 cover image

September 2015

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 3

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