ORLANDO – It is good practice to consult with a pulmonary hypertension (PH) expert before referring a patient with sickle cell disease (SCD) for right-heart catheterization or PH evaluation, according to new American Society of Hematology guidelines for the screening and management of cardiopulmonary and kidney disease in patients with SCD.
That “Good Practice” recommendation is one of several included in the evidence-based guidelinesDec. 10 in Blood Advances and highlighted during a Special Education Session at the annual ASH meeting.
The guidelines provide 10 main recommendations intended to “support patients, clinicians, and other health care professionals in their decisions about screening, diagnosis, and management of cardiopulmonary and renal complications of SCD,” wrote, of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and colleagues.
The recommendations, agreed upon by a multidisciplinary guideline panel, relate to screening, diagnosis, and management of PH, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), hypertension, proteinuria and chronic kidney disease, and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Most are “conditional,” as opposed to “strong,” because of a paucity of direct, high-quality outcomes data, and they are accompanied by the Good Practice Statements, descriptive remarks and caveats based on the available data, as well as suggestions for future research.
At the special ASH session,, highlighted some of the recommendations and discussed considerations for their practical application.
The Good Practice Statement on consulting a specialist before referring a patient for PH relates specifically to Recommendations 2a and 2b on the management of abnormal echocardiography, explained Dr. Desai of Indiana University, Indianapolis.
For asymptomatic children and adults with SCD and an isolated peak tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity (TRJV) of at least 2.5-2.9 m/s on echocardiography, the panel recommends against right-heart catheterization (Recommendation 2a, conditional), he said.
For children and adults with SCD and a peak TRJV of at least 2.5 m/s who also have a reduced 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) and/or elevated N-terminal proB-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), the panel supports right-heart catheterization (Recommendation 2b, conditional).
Dr. Desai noted that the 2.5 m/s threshold was found to be suboptimal when used as the sole criteria for right-heart catheterization. Using that threshold alone is associated with “moderate to large” harms, such as starting inappropriate PH-specific therapies and/or performing unnecessary right-heart catheterization. However, when used in combination with 6MWD, the predictive capacity improved significantly, and the risk for potential harm was low, he explained.
Another Good Practice Statement included in the guidelines, and relevant to these recommendations on managing abnormal echocardiography, addresses the importance of basing decisions about the need for right-heart catheterization on echocardiograms obtained at steady state rather than during acute illness, such as during hospitalization for pain or acute chest syndrome.
This is in part because of technical factors, Dr. Desai said.
“We know that repeating [echocardiography] is something that should be considered in patients because ... results vary – sometimes quite a bit – from study to study,” he said.
As for the cutoff values for 6MWD and NT-proBNP, “a decent amount of literature” suggests that less than 333 m and less than 160 pg/ml, respectively, are good thresholds, he said.
“Importantly, this should all be taken in the context of good clinical judgment ... along with discussion with a PH expert,” he added.
The full guidelines are, along with additional ASH guidelines on immune thrombocytopenia and prevention of venous thromboembolism in surgical hospitalized patients, at the ASH publications website.
Of note, the SCD guidelines on cardiopulmonary disease and kidney disease are one of five sets of SCD guidelines that have been in development; these are the first of those to be published. The remaining four sets of guidelines will address pain, cerebrovascular complications, transfusion, and hematopoietic stem cell transplant. All will be published in Blood Advances, and according to Dr. Liem, the transfusion medicine guidelines have been accepted and should be published in January 2020, followed by those for cerebrovascular complications. Publication of the pain and transplant guidelines are anticipated later in 2020.
Dr. Liem and Dr. Desai reported having no conflicts of interest.