Objectives: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a common complication of systemic sclerosis (SSc). Symptoms of coronary artery disease (CAD) and PAH are closely related and cardiac catheterisation is needed to confirm their diagnosis. The aim of the present work was to investigate of the extent of overlap between CAD and PAH in patients with SSc.
Methods: Based on non-invasive investigations, 20 patients out of 120 were suspected to have PAH (“suspected PAH” group). Another 10 patients showed signs of coronary disease (“suspected CAD” Group). In these 30 patients, right heart catheterisation and coronary angiography were performed, and the coronary flow reserve (CFR) was assessed by thermodilution technique.
Results: In the “suspected PAH” and the “suspected CAD” groups, PAH was found in 12/20 and 2/10 cases, and coronary artery stenosis in 9/20 and 6/10 cases, respectively. Severely reduced CFR was revealed in 7/20 and 3/10 cases, respectively.
Conclusions: PAH, CAD and reduced CFR all show a considerable overlap in symptomatic patients with SSc. The current non-invasive investigations are neither sensitive nor specific enough to make an appropriate distinction between these different disease manifestations. A more invasive approach, such as coronary angiography at the initial catheterisation, is required to properly characterise and treat the different forms of cardiac involvement in SSc.
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