Pulmonary vasodilator therapy is associated with greater survival in Eisenmenger syndrome

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Eisenmenger syndrome (ES) is a severe form of pulmonary hypertension in adults with congenital heart disease (CHD) and has a poor prognosis. We aimed to understand factors associated with survival in ES and particularly to assess the potential benefits of advanced pulmonary vasodilator therapy (AT).


From January 2004, when AT became generally available for patients with ES, we followed 253 ES adults from 12 adult congenital heart disease centres across Australia and New Zealand. Demographic, medical and outcome data were collected and analysed prospectively and retrospectively.


The patients with ES were predominantly female (60%), aged 31 (SD 12) years. At diagnosis of ES, 64% were WHO functional class ≥3. The most common underlying lesion was ventricular septal defect (33%) with 21% having ‘complex’ anatomy. Over a median follow-up time of 9.1 years, the majority (72%) had been prescribed at least one AT (49% single agent), mostly bosentan (66%, 168 patients). The mean time on AT was 6 (SD 3.6) years. Those on AT were more functionally impaired at presentation (69% WHO ≥3 vs 51%, p=0.007) and more likely to have been prescribed anticoagulation (47% vs 27%, p=0.003). The risk of death/transplant was 4.8 %/year in AT exposed versus 8.4% in those never exposed. On multivariable analysis, exposure to AT was independently associated with greater survival (survival HR 2.27, 95% CI 1.49 to 3.45; p<0.001). WHO ≥3 at presentation was associated with a worse prognosis (mortality HR 1.82, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.78; p=0.006).


Treatment with AT was independently associated with greater survival in patients with ES, even though they were comparatively sicker prior to treatment.

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