The Early Diagnosis Campaign: Sometimes it's PH

The Early Diagnosis Campaign

The Early Diagnosis Campaign is PHA’s effort to eliminate diagnostic delays and reduce the average time to accurate PH diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

The Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s Early Diagnosis Campaign is a focused effort aimed at increasing awareness and driving action across the entire continuum of care — from accurate diagnosis, to proper treatment, to optimization of care and disease management.

Through the development of tools and resources that facilitate accurate diagnosis, including educational resources for healthcare providers and patients, we aim to systematically break down common barriers to care for pulmonary hypertension patients, reduce the average time to accurate PH diagnosis, and improve patient outcomes.

Our goals:

  1. Increase awareness of the risk factors and symptoms of PH among healthcare providers and their patients.
  2. Promote right heart catheterization as the gold standard of PH diagnosis.1
  3. Improve diagnostic accuracy by promoting screening via ventilation/perfusion scan for all patients with suspected PH.2
  4. Decrease the average time between PH symptom onset and diagnosis.

Why is early diagnosis of PH so important?

Pulmonary hypertension is a serious, debilitating, and often fatal progressive condition where the blood pressure in the lungs rises to dangerously high levels, ultimately resulting in right heart failure.

Without treatment, the mean survival rate of patients with PH is approximately 2.8 years.3

Proper treatment has been found to extend life and improve quality of life, however early intervention remains the key to maximizing treatment efficacy and patient outcomes.

When an accurate PH diagnosis accompanied by appropriate treatment is achieved early in the disease progression (functional classes I and II), patients report fewer limitations and greater quality of life. For many, this means maintaining the ability to work and continuing to enjoy family and social activities as well as hobbies. Unfortunately, the REVEAL Registry shows that patients displaying milder impairment are among the groups experiencing the greatest diagnostic delays. Through the Early Diagnosis Campaign, PHA is working to change that.

Early Diagnosis Campaign Infographic

Download and share the campaign infographic:
Why Early Diagnosis Matters (PDF)

Why is the zebra the symbol of the campaign?

Among healthcare providers, the zebra is a metaphor for an unexpected diagnosis.

When first learning how to reach a diagnosis, health professionals are taught, “When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras.” Through this example, instructors encourage their students to think first of the more common, and therefore more likely, diagnosis.

This logic makes sense most of the time, but also partly explains why PH is often misdiagnosed as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other more common diseases. The goal of the Early Diagnosis Campaign is to encourage care providers to look beyond common explanations and consider the possibility of pulmonary hypertension when it becomes clear that the answer is not a simple one.

References:
  1. PHA Scientific Leadership Council. Summary and explanation of common tests for pulmonary hypertension: consensus statement. Silver Spring, MD: Advances; 2008.
  2. Kim NH, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;62(suppl D):D92-D99.
  3. Brown LM, et al. Chest. 2011;140(1):19-26.