• pulmonary artery hypertension;
  • systemic sclerosis;
  • right ventricular function;
  • Tei index;
  • tissue Doppler echocardiography

Objectives: Evaluate echocardiographic predictors of pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH) in a prospective cohort of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). Methods: 38 patients with SSc who did not have PAH and significant left heart disease, with peak tricuspid regurgitant velocity (TRV) ≤ 2.8 m/sec and systolic pulmonary artery pressure (sPAP) < 40 mmHg on echo Doppler were enrolled. Patients underwent: clinical assessment, NT-proBNP, and DLco measurements. Echo Doppler evaluation included right ventricular (RV) dimensions, tricuspid annular plan systolic excursion, fractional area change, tricuspid DTI systolic velocity, Tei index, pulmonary flow acceleration time (AcT), ratio of TRV to RV outflow tract time–velocity integral (TVI) and a parameter of disturbed RV ejection (TRV/AcT). After a planned 12-month follow-up we evaluated the predictive value of these parameters for the development of PAH, as demonstrated by right heart catheterization (RHC). Criteria for RHC were TRV ≥ 3 m/sec or sPAP ≥ 40 mmHg. Results: Four patients developed PAH. Only TRV/TVI and TRV/AcT ratios significantly predicted PAH development (TRV/TVI ratio ≥ 0.16 [predefined and ROC confirmed]: OR 99, CI 95%: 4.865–2015, P = 0.004; TRV/AcT ratio ≥ 0.022 [predefined and ROC confirmed]: OR 12.68, CI 95% 1.163–379.3, P = 0.036). Both parameters showed a good diagnostic power (TRV/TVI ratio: ROC area 79%, sensitivity 75%, specificity 97% and diagnostic accuracy 94.74% for cutoff value of 0.16; TRV/AcT ratio: ROC area 75%, sensitivity 75%, specificity 71% and diagnostic accuracy 72% for cutoff value of 0.022). Conclusions: This prospective study identified increased values of the two ratios TRV/TVI and TRV/AcT as predictors of PAH in SSc. (Echocardiography 2011;28:860-869)