Canadian Campaign to Ask Doctors to Consider PH as They Examine Patients

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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PH doctor awareness effort

The Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada will be trying to persuade medical professionals to pay more attention to pulmonary hypertension (PH) as a possible cause of their patients’ respiratory-related symptoms.

The association will start a campaign next month called Sometimes it’s PH to raise awareness practitioners’ awareness of PH. It chose May 5 as the launch date to help mark the sixth annual World Pulmonary Hypertension Day. The campaign website will include information on PH’s symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment.

PH is often misdiagnosed. An alarming finding in Canada is that it takes more than two years for a lot of patients to get the correct diagnosis.

Common PH symptoms include breathlessness, chest pain, dry cough, dizziness, fainting, and loss of energy. These symptoms can apply to a number of other conditions as well.

Because PH is a progressive disease, the earlier a patient is treated, the better the results, including maintaining quality of life. The lengthy delay in diagnosing many patients means that when they finally are diagnosed, they will have an advanced stage of the disease.

The awareness campaign will try to reduce diagnosis delays by encouraging general practitioners, respiratory specialists, internists and other medical professionals to consider PH as a possible cause of some patients’ respiratory-related symptoms, according to a press release.

Medical professionals can use the website to help identify symptoms that could be PH, arrange for tests that can indicate whether a patient has the disease, and refer patients to specialized centers that can confirm a diagnosis.

PHA Canada will celebrate World PH Day with a Paint Canada Purple campaign. This will involve illuminating landmarks across Canada in periwinkle blue to raise awareness of the disease.

Click here to access a list of monuments that will accept illumination requests and show you how you can participate in #PaintCanadaPurple. If you have questions, contact PHA Canada at [email protected].

The first World PH Day was in 2012 at a scientific symposium in Madrid. Twenty-two patient associations, 10 rare and affiliated disease organizations, and eight scientific societies endorsed the day.

Those organizing the first World PH Day had a reason for choosing May 5 as the date.  It was the day more than 30 years before when the first Spanish child died of PH — from consuming toxic rapeseed oil. The organizers have stuck with the date ever since.

A Conversation With Rare Disease Advocates