Pulmonary hypertension complicated by pericardial effusion: A single center experience

Gregory R. Honeycutt, Zeenat Safdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Pericardial effusion is an independent predictor of mortality in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). However, the management and outcomes of patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) and pericardial effusion are not well described. A retrospective, observational study was conducted at Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital by screening all patients admitted between 1 June 2005 and 1 June 2010 with the International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision codes for PH and pericardial effusion. A total of 138 patients were identified, and 103 patients were excluded on the basis of valvular heart disease, recent surgery or end-stage renal disease. Thirty-five patients with PH diagnosed by a historical right heart catheterization or echocardiography and with documented pericardial effusion were included in this analysis. Demographic, hemodynamic, laboratory and survival data were collected. The mean age was 49.5±36 years (mean ± standard deviation), 31 of 35 patients were women (93%) and pulmonary artery systolic pressure was 77 ± 19 mmHg. Mean follow-up period was 20.5 ± 12.9 months. Fifteen patients had PAH associated with connective tissue disease (50%). The majority of the patients (87%) with pericardial effusion were managed conservatively. Four patients (13%) who were hemodynamically unstable underwent pericardial window placement. One of them was started on epoprostenol, and two patients had the doses of PAH-specific medications uptitrated. Three of four pericardial window patients survived to the conclusion of the follow-up period. The overall survival in our cohort was 60%, with three patients lost to follow-up. Connective tissue disease associated PAH and female sex were predominant in our cohort of patients with pericardial effusion. Seventy-five percent of patients who were treated with pericardial window for hemodynamically unstable pericardial effusion survived until the end of the study period. Pericardial window may be a therapeutic option in patients with unstable PH with pericardial effusion. Further studies are needed to determine the optimal treatment strategy for such patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • echocardiogram
  • pericardial effusion
  • pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • right heart failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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