If you have pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) – a type of high blood pressure that can have a dangerous impact on your heart and on your lungs – it is important to know your risk status. Understanding your risk status may change how you think about your future. Based on research involving thousands of patients, conducted by the world’s leading experts in PAH, risk status is a different way for your doctor to assess your PAH. Unlike PAH tests, risk status provides a more thorough view of your condition. Risk status can provide critical insight for you and your doctor on things like how well your treatments are working and how your PAH may progress in the future. Risk status can also be linked to your likelihood of being alive 5 years later. For example, one study found that 96% of people with PAH who improved their risk status to low risk category at their first follow-up visit (within one year after diagnosis) were alive 5 years later. By contrast, only 50% of those whose risk status remained stable at higher risk levels (intermediate or high risk) lived at least 5 more years. Current guidelines recommend your PAH doctor evaluate your risk status every 3 to 6 months. To determine your risk status, your healthcare provider may combine your results from a number of tests commonly used to assess your PAH. Three of the most common assessments used in PAH risk assessment are the 6 Minute Walk Test, Functional Class, and your level of the hormone B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) (or its precursor, NT-proBNP), a hormone that is detected at higher levels when your heart is working harder than normal. Each assessment included in the risk calculation has values that research shows are associated with a low, intermediate, or high risk status. For example, the 6 Minute Walk Test, which you are likely familiar with, evaluates how far you can walk in 6 minutes. The farther you can walk, the more likely you are to be in a lower risk category. What’s different about a risk assessment it that it gives your healthcare provider a way of combining the results of tests you’ve already done into one: your risk status. While each test on its own provides a specific view of one element of your disease, only a risk assessment can provide a comprehensive view of your disease. Improving your risk status can increase your chance of survival over the following 5 years. And the good news is that with the over 15 PAH treatments available today, there is a good chance that your doctor can find a combination of medications that can help you improve your risk status. Working with your doctor to identify the best ways for you to lower your risk status can significantly decrease your PAH symptoms, improve your ability to perform everyday activities, and possibly change the course of your PAH. Maybe even more importantly, risk status can give you peace of mind by empowering you and your doctor to use an evidence-based approach to guide your treatment decisions and monitor your progress. Regularly assessing risk status can be the key to finding the right path for your future. To learn more about PAH and risk status, visit www.PAHInitiative.com. This article was sponsored by the PAH Initiative, where knowledge meets inspiration. The PAH Initiative, sponsored by United Therapeutics, is dedicated to advancing patient care in pulmonary arterial hypertension. References Benza, R.L. et al. Assessing risk in pulmonary hypertension: what we know, what we don’t. European Respiratory Journal. 2017; 50: 701353. Casserly, B. & Klinger, J.R. Brain natriuretic peptide in pulmonary arterial hypertension: biomarker and potential therapeutic agent. Drug Design Development and Therapy. 2009; 3: 269-287. Gabler, N.B. et al. Validation of 6-minute walk distance as a surrogate end point in pulmonary arterial hypertension trials. Circulation. 2012; 126(3): 349-356. Kylhammar, D. et al. A comprehensive risk stratification at early follow-up determines prognosis in pulmonary arterial hypertension. European Heart Journal. 2018; 39(47): 4175-4181. Lan, L.S. et al. Pulmonary arterial hypertension: Pathophysiology and treatment. Diseases. 2018; 6(2): 38. Luscher, T.F. Arterial and pulmonary hypertension: risk assessment and current pharmacological and interventional management. European Heart Journal. 2018; 39(47): 4127-4131. Risk Status: Today’s Approach to PAH. PAH Initiative website. Accessed August 7, 2020. https://www.pahinitiative.com/pah-life-expectancy/ Souza, R. et al. Association between six-minute walk distance and long-term outcomes in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension: Data from the randomized SERAPHIN trial. PLoS One; 2018; 13(3): e0193226. The preceding article is content provided by our sponsor United Therapeutics. The views and opinions expressed in the content above are not the views and opinions of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, LLC. Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.