Pulmonary artery to aorta ratio is associated with cardiac structure and functional changes in mild-to-moderate COPD

Michael J. Cuttica*, Surya P. Bhatt, Sharon R. Rosenberg, Lauren Beussink, Sanjiv J. Shah, Lewis J. Smith, Mark T. Dransfield, Ravi Kalhan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The ratio of the diameter of the pulmonary artery (PA) to the diameter of the aorta (PA:A) on computed tomography (CT) imaging is associated with both COPD exacerbation and pulmonary hypertension. The mechanisms of PA enlargement in COPD are poorly understood. Methods: In this retrospective, single center study we evaluated pulmonary function, CT scans, right heart catheterizations, and echocardiography in 88 subjects with mild-to-moderately severe COPD. A sensitivity analysis was performed in 43 subjects in whom CT scan and echocardiogram were performed within 50 days of each other. To evaluate the association between PA:A ratio and echocardiographic parameters and hemodynamics, we performed simple correlations and multivariable linear regression analysis adjusting for lung function, age, sex, race, and diastolic function. Results: All subjects had preserved left ventricular (LV) systolic function (LV ejection fraction 62.7%±5.5%). Among them, 56.8% had evidence of diastolic dysfunction. There was no association between PA:A ratio and the presence of diastolic dysfunction. In a multivariable model, PA:A ratio was associated with right ventricular (RV) chamber size (β=0.015; P<0.003), RV wall thickness (β=0.56; P<0.002), and RV function (-0.49; P=0.05). In the subgroup of subjects with testing within 50 days, the association with RV chamber size persisted (β=0.017; P=0.04), as did the lack of association with diastolic function. PA:A ratio was also associated with elevated PA systolic pressures (r=0.62; P=0.006) and pulmonary vascular resistance (r=0.46; P=0.05), but not pulmonary arterial wedge pressure (r=0.17; P=0.5) in a subset of patients undergoing right heart catheterization. Conclusion: In patients with mild-to-moderately severe COPD and preserved LV function, increased PA:A ratio occurs independent of LV diastolic dysfunction. Furthermore, the PA:A ratio is associated with right heart structure and function changes, as well as pulmonary hemodynamics. These findings indicate that PA:A ratio is a marker of intrinsic pulmonary vascular changes rather than impaired LV filling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1439-1446
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of COPD
StatePublished - May 12 2017


  • COPD
  • Diastolic dysfunction
  • Pulmonary artery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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