To evaluate whether a positive exercise echocardiogram (EE) predicts future development of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in a high-risk cohort of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).

. Patients with SSc with features associated with an increased risk for PAH were recruited into a prospective, observational cohort. All patients underwent clinical assessment and EE. A positive EE was defined as an increase of ≥ 20 mmHg in the right ventricular systolic pressure with exercise. All patients with positive EE underwent right heart catheterization (RHC). The study included 85 patients. In the positive EE cohort, 10 of 43 patients (23%) developed resting pulmonary hypertension (PH) on RHC over a mean 4-year followup period [4 with PAH, 5 with pulmonary venous hypertension (PVH), and 1 with PH associated with interstitial lung disease]. In this high-risk cohort of patients with SSc, a positive EE may predict the future development of resting PH. In addition, a majority of patients may have a persistently positive EE for years without progression to resting PH. Finally, a consistently negative EE may identify patients at low risk for future PH.

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