Treatment strategies for the right heart in pulmonary hypertension

Berend E. Westerhof, Nabil Saouti, Willem J. Van Der Laarse, Nico Westerhof, Anton Vonk Noordegraaf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


The function of the right ventricle (RV) determines the prognosis of patients with pulmonary hypertension. While much progress has been made in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, therapies for the RV are less well established. In this review of treatment strategies for the RV, first we focus on ways to reduce wall stress since this is the main determinant of changes to the ventricle. Secondly, we discuss treatment strategies targeting the detrimental consequences of increased RV wall stress. To reduce wall stress, afterload reduction is the essential. Additionally, preload to the ventricle can be reduced by diuretics, by atrial septostomy, and potentially by mechanical ventricular support. Secondary to ventricular wall stress, left-to-right asynchrony, altered myocardial energy metabolism, and neurohumoral activation will occur. These may be targeted by optimising RV contraction with pacing, by iron supplement, by angiogenesis and improving mitochondrial function, and by neurohumoral modulation, respectively. We conclude that several treatment strategies for the right heart are available; however, evidence is still limited and further research is needed before clinical application can be recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1465-1473
Number of pages9
JournalCardiovascular research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Beta-blockade
  • Cardiac resynchronisation
  • Diuretics
  • Mitochondrial function
  • Ventricular-assist device

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