Undiagnosed connective tissue diseases High prevalence in pulmonary arterial hypertension patients

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Among different subgroups of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), those associated with connective tissue diseases (CTDs) have distinct hemodynamic and prognostic features; a correct etiologic diagnosis is thus mandatory. To estimate frequency and prognosis of previously undiagnosed CTDs in a suspect idiopathic (i) PAH cohort. Consecutive patients with PAH confirmed by right heart catheterization referred at the Cardiology Division of our Hospital without a previous rheumatological assessment or the occurrence of other conditions explaining PAH were checked for CTD by a clinical, laboratory, and instrumental evaluation. Survival in each group has also been analyzed. In our study 17 of 49 patients were classified as CTD-PAH, corresponding to a prevalence (95% CI) of 34.7% (21.7-49.6%). ANA positivity had 94% (71.3-99.9%) sensitivity and 78.1% (60-90.7%) specificity for a diagnosis of CTD-PAH; Raynaud phenomenon (RP) showed 83.3% (51.6-97.9%) sensitivity and 100% (90.5-100%) specificity for the diagnosis of Systemic Sclerosis (SSc)-PAH. At diagnosis, SSc patients were older and had a lower creatinine clearance compared with iPAH and other CTD-PAH. After a median follow-up of 44 (2-132) months, 18 of 49 (36.7%) patients died: 31.2% in the iPAH group, 20% in the CTD-, and 58.3% in the SSc-PAH group. Mortality was significantly higher in SSc-PAH (HR 3.32, 1.11-9.95, P<0.05) versus iPAH. We show a high prevalence of undiagnosed CTDs in patients with iPAH without a previous rheumatological assessment. All patients with RP were diagnosed with SSc. Our data stress the importance of a rheumatological assessment in PAH, especially because of the unfavorable prognostic impact of an associated SSc.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Antinuclear antibodies
  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Raynaud phenomenon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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