The evolving classification of pulmonary hypertension

Michelle Foshat, Nahal Boroumand

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Context: An explosion of information on pulmonary hypertension has occurred during the past few decades. The perception of this disease has shifted from purely clinical to incorporate new knowledge of the underlying pathology. This transfer has occurred in light of advancements in pathophysiology, histology, and molecular medical diagnostics. Objectives: To update readers about the evolving understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension and to demonstrate how pathology has shaped the current classification. Data Sources: Information presented at the 5 World Symposia on pulmonary hypertension held since 1973, with the last meeting occurring in 2013, was used in this review. Conclusions: Pulmonary hypertension represents a heterogeneous group of disorders that are differentiated based on differences in clinical, hemodynamic, and histopathologic features. Early concepts of pulmonary hypertension were largely influenced by pharmacotherapy, hemodynamic function, and clinical presentation of the disease. The initial nomenclature for pulmonary hypertension segregated the clinical classifications from pathologic subtypes. Major restructuring of this disease classification occurred between the first and second symposia, which was the first to unite clinical and pathologic information in the categorization scheme. Additional changes were introduced in subsequent meetings, particularly between the third and fourth World Symposia meetings, when additional pathophysiologic information was gained. Discoveries in molecular diagnostics significantly progressed the understanding of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. Continued advancements in imaging modalities, mechanistic pathogenicity, and molecular biomarkers will enable physicians to define pulmonary hypertension phenotypes based on the pathobiology and allow for treatment customization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-703
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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