Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

How can we non-invasively, but still accurately, measure blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries?

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a complex, progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs. The gold standard for measuring pressures in the pulmonary arteries is a right heart catheterization, where a special catheter is guided through the right side of the heart and into the pulmonary artery, the main vessel carrying blood to the lungs. This measurement is essential, as it allows physicians and patients to accurately diagnose the disease and to select the most appropriate treatment. Other, less invasive methods—such as echocardiography, CT scan, and MRI—do not yet indirectly measure pulmonary artery pressure as accurately as the right heart catheterization.

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Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

i. In patients with pulmonary hypertension, the use of multiple tests to characterize the type and severity has long been recommended by global experts; one commonly used diagnostic algorithm recommends more than ten different tests to accurately define this complex, heterogeneous disease. Despite the algorithm used, to confirm a diagnosis of one specific type of PH, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), one must always directly measure the pressures in the heart and pulmonary artery through a right heart catheterization (RHC). Complications for this procedure are rare, but not non-existent with potentially 1 in every 100 patients having a right heart catheterization experiencing a serious adverse event (Hoeper MM 2006). Patients would significantly benefit from a non-invasive method of quantifying their pulmonary artery pressures and/or disease progression, but to date this has not been possible with echocardiography due to measurement errors (Laver 2014), CT scan due in part to measurement inconsistencies (Alhamad 2011), and cardiac MRI due to lack of standardization and multicenter trials (Peacock 2013). Not only would wider utilization of a non-invasive method of measuring pulmonary artery pressures and disease progression potentially reduce the risk from RHC, depending on the modality it could lead to earlier diagnosis of this progressive disease and/or application in countries where RHC is less common.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

Addressing a non-invasive method of measuring pulmonary artery pressures requires investment in both technology and multicenter clinical trials to validate these measures.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Katherine Kroner, Michael Patrick Gray, PHA

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Idea No. 769