Pulmonary hypertension and human immunodeficiency virus infection: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical approach

S. Cicalini, S. Almodovar, E. Grilli, S. Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, the pathogenic role of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the clinical manifestations of HIV- associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (HIV- PAH), which currently represents one of the most severe complications of HIV infection, have received more attention HIV- PAH occurs at all stages of the disease, and does not seem to be related to the degree of immune deficiency. Many of the symptoms in HIV- PAH result from right ventricular dysfunction: the first clinical manifestation is effort intolerance and exertional dyspnoea that will progress to the point of breathlessness at rest. Echocardiography is an extremely useful tool for the diagnosis of HIV- PAH, and Doppler echocardiography can be used to estimate systolic pulmonary artery pressure. Assessment of haemodynamic measures by catheterization remains, however, the best test for evaluating the response to therapy. Cardiac catheterization is mandatory to definitively diagnose the disease and exclude any underlying cardiac shunt as the aetiology. Recently, effective therapies for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) have been available, including prostanoids, endothelin receptor antagonists, and phosphodiesterase- 5 inhibitors, allowing amelioration of symptoms and a better prognosis. However, HIV- PAH remains a progressive disease for which treatment is often unsatisfactory and there is no cure. As new efficient antiretroviral treatment is introduced, clinicians should expect to encounter an increasing number of cases of PAH in HIV- infected patients in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Clinical
  • HIV proteins
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Pathogenesis
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Review
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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