Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Would patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) benefit from background anticoagulation in addition to their PAH-targe

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a complex, progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs. For several decades, oral anticoagulation has been recommended by some societies for patients with a specific form of PH called pulmonary arterial hypertension. However, the evidence currently supporting this recommendation is very limited. To date, no prospective randomized clinical trial has been completed to scientifically answer this question directly.

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

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

The evolution of the anticoagulation recommendation in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a relatively logical one at face value. Early in the modern era of PAH management, a “thrombosis” in the small pulmonary arteries was identified and described; studies since then have demonstrated hypercoagulability in patients with severe disease. Together, these observations led to a theory that in-situ thrombosis contributed to the PAH disease progression and a belief that anticoagulation should be beneficial. The empirical evidence currently supporting this recommendation comes mostly from a retrospective cohort study of the European COMPERA PH registry and a systematic review of 7 retrospective cohort studies that are at least 10 years old—2 of which did not suggest a survival benefit—and in a time where only 4 of the widely used PAH-targeted therapies were approved by the FDA. Purely based on observational evidence with a number of potential biases, warfarin (Coumadin) is widely used in PAH management to this day. Warfarin in this patient population is not without its risks, as some subgroups of PAH patients are at increased risk of bleeding complications based on their disease process alone. Assessing the true benefit of this widely used background therapy could allow clinicians and patients to more accurately weigh the risks and burden of anticoagulation with a true understanding of the survival benefit.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

Addressing this compelling question is indeed feasible through an NIH-sponsored randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of anticoagulation in patients with certain types of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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. 772