Heart Rate Variability and Arrhythmic Burden in Pulmonary Hypertension
Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a devastating, life-limiting disease driven by small vessel vascular remodeling leading to a rise in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR). Patients present with a range of symptoms including shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, palpitations or syncope. Symptoms may be related to vascular disease progression or arrhythmia secondary to the adaptation of the right heart to pressure overload. Arrhythmic burden is high in patients with left heart disease
... left heart disease and guideline-based treatment of arrhythmias improves quality of life and prognosis. In PAH the incidence and prevalence of arrhythmias is less well-defined and there are no PAH-specific guidelines for arrhythmia management. We undertook a literature search identifying 13 relevant papers; detection of arrhythmias was acquired from 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) or Holter monitors. In all forms of pulmonary hypertension (PH) the prevalence of supraventricular arrhythmias (SVA) was 26-31%, ventricular arrhythmias (VA) 24% and a 5-year incidence of SVA ∼13.2-25.1%. Prevalence and incidence of arrhythmias in PAH is less clear due to limited study numbers and the heterogenous nature of the patient population studied. For arrhythmia treatment, only single-arm studies of therapeutic strategies were reported using antiarrhythmic drugs (AAD), direct current cardioversion (DCCV) and ablation. Periods between ECG or Holter have not been investigated, highlighting the possibility that significant arrhythmias may be undetected. Advances in monitoring allow long-term surveillance via implanted/non-invasive monitors. Use of such technologies may provide an accurate estimate of incidence and prevalence of arrhythmias in patients with PAH, further defining relationships to adverse outcomes, and therapeutic options.