Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine
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Purpose of review: Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by an elevation of pulmonary artery pressures and prolonged exposure of the right ventricle to high afterload that collectively contribute to morbidity and mortality in both the term and preterm infants. This review summarizes the pathogenesis, etiologies, and hemodynamic profiles of the conditions that result in pulmonary hypertension in neonates. We explore the application of echocardiographic techniques for the assessment of right ventricular performance and pulmonary hemodynamics that enhance and guide the diagnosis and management strategies in neonates. Recent findings: Clinical assessments based on the determinants of mean pulmonary artery pressures (pulmonary vascular resistance, pulmonary blood flow, and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure) provide a physiologic approach in determining the acute and chronic etiologies of pulmonary hypertension in neonates. In addition, advances in neonatal echocardiography now afford the capability to obtain quantitative information that often precedes the qualitative information acquired by conventional methods and also provide sensitive markers of right ventricle performance for prognostic information based on the determinants of mean pulmonary artery pressures. Summary: Neonatal pulmonary hypertension represents a physiologic spectrum that accounts for the variance in clinical presentation and response to therapies. Physiology-based approaches to etiological identification, coupled with the emerging echocardiographic methods for the assessment of pulmonary hypertension in neonates will likely help to identify cardiovascular compromise earlier, guide therapeutic intervention, monitor therapeutic effectiveness, and improve overall outcome.