Pulmonary Hypertension Referrals on Rise in UK, National Audit Shows

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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PH audit in UK

Increasing numbers of people in the United Kingdom are being treated for pulmonary hypertension, with a 21 percent increase in new referrals over the last five years, representing a jump t0 2,165 from 1,789 between 2010 and 2015, according to results from a national audit published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The Pulmonary Hypertension Audit is a national assessment of the eight specialized PH centers to measure their quality of care, activity levels, access rates, and patient outcomes across the U.K.

A snapshot of the data on March 31, 2015, further revealed a 56 percent increase in the number of patients receiving treatment at the PH centers, or a total 6,671 people in 2015 in comparison with 4,287 in 2010, the first year that the audit was conducted.

Other audit findings include:

  • The median age of patients receiving PH drug treatment was 59 years in 2015 (same median age reported in 2014).
  • The rate per million population of PH referred to a hypertension center was 82, underscoring that PH is a rare disease.
  • Forty-three percent of first-referral patients had a first doctor consultation or were discharged within 30 days, while 89 percent were referred and managed within 90 days.

A five-year survival rate, reported for a first time in this audit, varied from a median of four years and 213 days to two years and 13 days, depending on a person’s disease type.

“Today’s report shows that despite pulmonary hypertension being a rare disease, the number of new referrals for treatment is steadily rising. The report also shows that specialist pulmonary hypertension centres are also having to deal with an increasing number of patients who need specialist treatments, reflecting an ever increasing awareness of pulmonary hypertension,” Dr. Simon Gibbs, the audit’s leading clinician, said in a news release.

PH is characterized by a high blood pressure in the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, leading to their narrowing and forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood properly. Over time, the heart weakens and its function can become compromised, leading to heart failure.