In a study recently presented during the 2015 Annual International Conference of the American Thoracic Society (ATS), researchers found that the incidence of pulmonary hypertension (PH) among patients who experienced pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs at twice the rate compared to what was reported in previous studies. The study also found that many patients are not getting the follow-up tests needed.
“These data indicate that, despite the risk of pulmonary hypertension among pulmonary embolism patients, the use of tests necessary to identify PH – and that determine the specific type of PH – is lacking,” said Dario Mirski, M.D., vice president and head, U.S. Medical Affairs at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals in a recent news release.
Results from the study revealed that the incidence of PH diagnoses after an acute PE is 7.6%. The researchers also assessed the practice of routine disease monitoring in patients with PE with results showing that 45% of these patients did not undergo imaging tests for detection of PH within 24 months of the diagnosis of PE diagnosis. These results are even more serious when considering that 87% of the patients had signs and symptoms of the condition.
“The need for improved monitoring of these patients is especially important, as the various types of PH are more prevalent than previously thought,” said Richard Channick, M.D., director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Pulmonary Hypertension and Thromboendarterectomy Program.
One test that could be used is the VQ scan (lung ventilation/perfusion), which measures air and blood flow in the lungs. The test is the best method to assess chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), a life-threatening type of PH. However, unlike PH, CTEPH can be cured with pulmonary endarterectomy surgery. Since the condition is characterized by non-specific symptoms, it is often underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed.
“These findings are important because the progression of PH can be slowed with effective treatment,” said Victor Tapson, M.D., director of the Venous Thromboembolism and Pulmonary Vascular Disease Research Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “Consistent use of accurate PH imaging diagnostics is critical to effective treatment.”