Digital tracking of physical activity, heart rate, and inhalation behavior in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension treated with inhaled iloprost: Observational study (VENTASTEP)

Barbara Stollfuss, Manuel Richter, Daniel Drömann, Hans Klose, Martin Schwaiblmair, Ekkehard Gruenig, Ralf Ewert, Martin C. Kirchner, Frank Kleinjung, Valeska Irrgang, Christian Mueller*

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension restricts the ability of patients to perform routine physical activities. As part of pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment, inhaled iloprost can be administered via a nebulizer that tracks inhalation behavior. Pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment is guided by intermittent clinical measurements, such as 6-minute walk distance, assessed during regular physician visits. Continuous digital monitoring of physical activity may facilitate more complete assessment of the impact of pulmonary arterial hypertension on daily life. Physical activity tracking with a wearable has not yet been assessed with simultaneous tracking of pulmonary arterial hypertension medication intake. Objective: We aimed to digitally track the physical parameters of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension who were starting treatment with iloprost using a Breelib nebulizer. The primary objective was to investigate correlations between changes in digital physical activity measures and changes in traditional clinical measures and health-related quality of life over 3 months. Secondary objectives were to evaluate inhalation behavior, adverse events, and changes in heart rate and sleep quality. Methods: We conducted a prospective, multicenter observational study of adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension in World Health Organization functional class III who were adding inhaled iloprost to existing pulmonary arterial hypertension therapy. Daily distance walked, step count, number of standing-up events, heart rate, and 6-minute walk distance were digitally captured using smartwatch (Apple Watch Series 2) and smartphone (iPhone 6S) apps during a 3-month observation period (which began when iloprost treatment began). Before and at the end of the observation period (within 2 weeks), we also evaluated 6-minute walk distance, Borg dyspnea, functional class, B-type natriuretic peptide (or N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide) levels, health-related quality of life (EQ-5D questionnaire), and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index). Results: Of 31 patients, 18 were included in the full analysis (observation period: median 91.5 days, IQR 88.0 to 92.0). Changes from baseline in traditional and digital 6-minute walk distance were moderately correlated (r=0.57). Physical activity (daily distance walked: median 0.4 km, IQR -0.2 to 1.9; daily step count: median 591, IQR -509 to 2413) and clinical measures (traditional 6-minute walk distance: median 26 m, IQR 0 to 40) changed concordantly from baseline to the end of the observation period. Health-related quality of life showed little change. Total sleep score and resting heart rate slightly decreased. Distance walked and step count showed short-term increases after each iloprost inhalation. No new safety signals were identified (safety analysis set: n=30). Conclusions: Our results suggest that despite challenges, parallel monitoring of physical activity, heart rate, and iloprost inhalation is feasible in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension and may complement traditional measures in guiding treatment; however, the sample size of this study limits generalizability.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25163
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 10.2021


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