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Pulmonary Hypertension Discriminates by Race, Gender

n African-American women and Caucasian women, of all ages, was surprising,” said Dr. Davis. “Further analysis of IPAH mortality data from 1999 to 2002 confirms that this trend is continuing.” While the reasons for this disparity remain unclear, researchers suggest that under-recognized comorbidities, access to care, insurance, and race-specific genetic factors, are now being recognized as potential causes.

“Race, gender, and age have become defining factors in assessing the risk of death in IPAH,” Dr. Davis concluded. “Clinicians must therefore be cognizant of this emerging demographic profile, which contrasts with the classic description of the condition as being a disease of middle aged, Caucasian women.”

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a rare disorder that affects the blood vessels within the lungs and leads to an increase in the pressure within the pulmonary arteries. This can lead to symptoms, such as unexplained shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain, fainting, and death. In the United States, an estimated 500 to 1,000 new cases of idiopathic pulmonary hypertension are diagnosed each year.

“Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension is a serious illness that is difficult to diagnose and manage,” said Mark J. Rosen, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. “The results of this study provide a new outlook in terms of race and gender as risk factors for increased mortality in IPAH and may provide further insight into the management of IPAH in specific populations.”

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