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Intern Med J. 2013 Jan;43(1):32-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2011.02624.x.

Screening and treating pulmonary arterial hypertension in a tertiary hospital-based multidisciplinary clinic: the first 200 patients.

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1
Sydney Medical School, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is an increasingly recognised serious illness with insidious onset, delayed diagnosis, complex diagnostic algorithms and poor prognosis, but with recently available effective treatments.

AIMS:

To efficiently diagnose and to offer treatment for PAH, we established a multidisciplinary service in 2005, where patients attend a clinic staffed by specialists in cardiology, respiratory medicine, rheumatology and immunology in a tertiary referral hospital setting.

METHODS:

We studied the first 200 patients referred. Serology, echocardiography, lung function tests, high-resolution computed tomography, World Health Organisation Class determination and 6-min walk tests and/or right heart catheterisation were performed, as clinically indicated.

RESULTS:

Of the 200 patients seen, 66 had confirmed pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary artery pressure > 25 mmHg) diagnosed on echocardiography ± right heart catheterisation. Of these patients, 58 had catheter-proven PAH (mean pulmonary artery pressure > 25 mmHg with mean wedge pressure < 15 mmHg). Underlying diagnoses for the confirmed PAH patients were idiopathic (32), scleroderma-associated (14), other connective tissue disease (4) and associated with congenital heart disease (8). Patients with confirmed PAH were commenced on PAH-specific therapy--initially bosentan in the majority but sildenafil, and iloprost were occasionally used initially for patient-specific reasons. Median time from when the patient first called the clinic to prescription of therapy was 16 days (interquartile range; 0-31 days). All surviving patients with PAH have attended for regular 6-monthly follow-up visits with a 100% retention rate up to 4 years.

CONCLUSION:

A multidisciplinary clinic can provide efficient diagnosis and rapid triage to PAH-specific therapy, if appropriate. Retention rates remain high, at follow up.

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