Which physical findings suggest pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)?

Updated: Apr 25, 2018
  • Author: Kristin E Schwab, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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The intensity of the pulmonic component of the second heart sound (P2) may be increased and the P2 may demonstrate fixed or paradoxic splitting. A systolic ejection murmur may be heard over the left sternal border. The murmur may be augmented by inspiration. A right ventricular heave may be palpated.

A prominent A wave may be observed in the jugular venous pulse. A right-sided fourth heart sound (S4) with a left parasternal heave may be auscultated.

Right ventricular failure leads to systemic venous hypertension and cor pulmonale. The signs of right ventricular failure include a high-pitched systolic murmur of tricuspid regurgitation, hepatomegaly, a pulsatile liver, ascites, and peripheral edema. In this scenario, a right ventricular third heart (S3) sound is also heard.

Signs of underlying cardiac, pulmonary, hepatic, or collagen-vascular disease are often present.

Patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) often develop cor pulmonale, which further worsens hypoxemia and perpetuates pulmonary hypertension.

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