Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and the early stage of cor pulmonale: A perspective in treatment with pulmonary arterial hypertension-approved drugs.


Department of Respirology (B2), Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]


Cor pulmonale is right ventricular hypertrophy and/or dilation caused by pulmonary hypertension (PH) due to diseases affecting the lung function and structure. Recently, the definition of PH was revised from a mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP) >25 mmHg to an mPAP >20 mmHg based on the Nice statement; this might expedite the detection of cor pulmonale. However, the only treatment for cor pulmonale for the past 3 decades has been to maintain the lung function and oxygen saturation. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the leading cause of cor pulmonale. Cor pulmonale in COPD is generally known to occur due to loss of vascular bed and chronic hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) due to alveolar wall destruction. However, a recent study suggested that in some patients with COPD, the pulmonary vascular alterations include components that are primary lesions of the pulmonary artery. These alterations may be similar to the remodeling that occurs in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Although, there is no evidence supporting the treatment of COPD patients with PH using drugs approved for PAH, such drugs may be effective in the treatment of a selected group of COPD patients, whose disease includes PAH-like vascular components. To distinguish these patients, it is necessary to understand the histopathology of COPD and renew our understanding of the concept of cor pulmonale, which treats the heart and lung as a single unit. Herein, we review the recent histopathological concepts of COPD with respect to the progression of cor pulmonale.


COPD,Cor pulmonale,PAH-approved drugs,Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH),Pulmonary hypertension (PH),