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New study may lead to quicker diagnosis, improved treatment for fatal lung disease
Date:7/11/2011

SALT LAKE CITY One-fifth of all patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension suffer with the fatal disease for more than two years before being correctly diagnosed and properly treated, according to a new national study led by researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

"For a lot of patients, that means the treatment is more difficult and the damage is irreversible," said Lynnette Brown, MD, PhD, a pulmonologist and researcher at Intermountain Medical Center and lead author of the study, which is published this week in the July issue of Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

"Finding out which patients are getting a delayed diagnosis is the first step in identifying them earlier, when treatment is easier and hopefully more effective," she said.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare but fatal disease that occurs when small arteries in the lungs become narrowed and unable to carry as much blood as healthy arteries. Pressure builds as the heart works harder to move blood into the lungs. Eventually, the heart may fail.

Treatment options have improved, extending the lives of many patients. But treatment may be less effective for patients who receive a delayed diagnosis.

The study found that:

  • More than 21 percent of patients with PAH had symptoms for over two years before being diagnosed and beginning treatment.

  • Patients younger than 36 years old were most likely to receive a delayed diagnosis.

  • Patients who previously had been diagnosed with a common respiratory disorder such as obstructive airway disease or sleep apnea werealso more likely to have a delayed diagnosis.

Dr. Brown and her colleagues gave several possible reasons for delayed diagnosis:

  • Symptoms shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling, and chest pain can also point to more common disorders, such as asthma.

  • Younger patients ar
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Contact: Jess C. Gomez
jess.gomez@imail.org
801-507-7455
Intermountain Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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