Long-term tolerability of phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors in pulmonary hypertension of sickle cell disease

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Objectives: Sickle cell disease-related pulmonary hypertension (SCD-PH) is a complex disorder with multifactorial contributory mechanisms. Previous trials have evaluated the efficacy of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) therapies in SCD-PH with mixed results. We hypothesized that a subset of patients with right heart catheterization (RHC) confirmed disease may benefit from PAH therapy. Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of patients with SCD-PH diagnosed by RHC who were treated with phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor (PDE5-I) therapy for ≥4 months between 2008 and 2019 at two institutions. Results: Thirty-six patients were included in the analysis. The median age (IQR) upon PDE5-I initiation was 47.5 years (35-51.5 years); 58% were female and twenty-nine (81%) had HbSS disease. Of these, 53% of patients had a history of acute chest syndrome, 42% had a history of venous thromboembolism, and 38% had imaging consistent with chronic thromboembolic PH. Patients were treated for a median duration of 25 months (IQR 13-60 months). Use of PDE5-I was associated with a significant improvement in symptoms as assessed by NYHA Class (P =.002). Conclusions: In SCD patients with PH defined by RHC, PDE5-I therapy was tolerated long-term and may improve physical activity.

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