Sometimes it's PH: An Early Diagnosis Campaign
Goal: Reduce the time from symptom onset to accurate diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension by right heart catheterization
Sometimes it's PH is a bold multi-year initiative by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) to reduce the time from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis of PH. PHA is mobilizing to change aspects of medical practice so that more patients may gain access to the nine treatments and the many specialty care centers that have become available in the U.S. before the disease progresses to advanced stages.
The nine pulmonary hypertension treatments available in the U.S. have all been developed since 1996. PH has as many or more treatments than all but two of the 7,000 identified rare diseases. Yet over the past 20 years there has been no reduction in the time from symptom onset to diagnosis. With missed or late diagnosis, patients lose the opportunity for effective treatment and for a better chance of survival.
It takes too long for pulmonary hypertension to be diagnosed. The median survival rate without treatment is approximately 2.8 years, making the need to obtain a rapid and accurate diagnosis urgent. Unfortunately, the mean duration from symptom onset to a confirmed diagnosis by right heart catheterization is also 2.8 years. We are reaching patients too late in the process. Almost three-fourths of patients have advanced PH by the time they are diagnosed. The goal is to discover the disease sooner in the early stages. This will allow the start of a treatment regimen that can slow the progression of PH and secure a better life for the patient. Learn more about why early diagnosis of PH is important
Why the Zebra
Doctors are taught to associate common symptoms with common ailments with this saying, "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras." Pulmonary hypertension is a medical zebra. Just as a zebra sounds like a horse, PH often looks like something more common. Sometimes common symptoms indicate asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, obesity or other common diseases. But sometimes it's PH. Our campaign urges doctors and patients to consider PH when they see these symptoms.
Goals of the Campaign
PHA believes too few healthcare professionals know how to spot PH. Sometimes it’s PH aims to make three changes:
- Educate more healthcare providers about PH
- Urge more healthcare providers to consider a PH diagnosis when symptoms warrant
- Encourage healthcare providers to refer patients to PH specialty care centers for appropriate testing and a wider range of treatment options