What are the treatment options for cor pulmonale?

Updated: Dec 15, 2017
  • Author: Derek Leong, MD; Chief Editor: Henry H Ooi, MD, MRCPI  more...
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Medical therapy for chronic cor pulmonale is generally focused on treatment of the underlying pulmonary disease and improving oxygenation and right ventricular (RV) function by increasing RV contractility and decreasing pulmonary vasoconstriction. [22] However, the approach might be different to some degree in an acute setting, with priority given to stabilizing the patient.

Cardiopulmonary support for patients experiencing acute cor pulmonale with resultant acute RV failure includes fluid loading and vasoconstrictor (eg, epinephrine) administration to maintain adequate blood pressure. Of course, the primary problem should be corrected, if possible. For example, for massive pulmonary embolism, consider administration of anticoagulation, thrombolytic agents or surgical embolectomy, especially if circulatory collapse is impending; consider bronchodilation and infection treatment in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and consider steroid and immunosuppressive agents in infiltrative and fibrotic lung diseases.

Oxygen therapy, diuretics, vasodilators, digitalis, theophylline, and anticoagulation therapy are all different modalities used in the long-term management of chronic cor pulmonale.

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