Marked skeletal muscle deficits are associated with 6-minute walk distance in paediatric pulmonary hypertension.
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<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>Poor growth is common in children with pulmonary hypertension; however, skeletal muscle deficits have not been described and the association between muscle deficits and functional status is unknown.</p>
<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>Patients aged 8-18 years with pulmonary hypertension (diagnostic Groups 1, 2, or 3) and World Health Organization functional class I or II underwent dual-energy absorptiometry to measure leg lean mass Z-score (a surrogate for skeletal muscle). Muscle strength was assessed using dynamometry. Physical activity questionnaires were administered. Clinical data, including 6-minute walk distance, were reviewed. Relationships between skeletal muscle, physical activity score, and 6-minute walk distance were assessed by correlations and linear regression.</p>
<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>Sixteen patients (12.1 ± 3.2 years, 50% female, 56% Group 1, 56% functional class II) were enrolled. Leg lean mass Z-score was significantly less than reference data (-1.40 ± 1.12 versus 0.0 ± 0.9, p < 0.001) and worse in those with functional class II versus I (-2.10 ± 0.83 versus -0.50 ± 0.73, p < 0.01). Leg lean mass Z-score was positively associated with right ventricular systolic function by tricuspid annular plane systolic Z-score (r = 0.54, p = 0.03) and negatively associated with indexed pulmonary vascular resistance (r = -0.78, p < 0.001). Leg lean mass Z-score and forearm strength were positively associated with physical activity score. When physical activity score was held constant, leg lean mass Z-score independently predicted 6-minute walk distance (R2 = 0.39, p = 0.03).</p>
<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>Youth with pulmonary hypertension demonstrate marked skeletal muscle deficits in association with exercise intolerance. Future studies should investigate whether low leg lean mass is a marker of disease severity or an independent target that can be improved.</p>