Top national and international specialists in pulmonary hypertension (PH) – a progressive, life-threatening disease commonly misdiagnosed, for example, as asthma – invite clinicians currently treating or likely to care for patients living with the disease to attend a free symposium this month.

The event, Challenges in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Breathing, Beating, and Beyond, takes place May 19th at the National Library of Medicine’s Lister Hill Center on the NIH Campus. The symposium is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center Critical Care Medicine Department (CCMD) and the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), the world’s first and largest organization dedicated to empowering and advocating for PH patients and caregivers, promoting quality care and catalyzing research for a cure.

Drs. Michael A. Solomon and Jason M. Elinoff, faculty in the Critical Care Medicine Department and Co-Directors of the NIH Clinical Center’s Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Program, will host the symposium which addresses lung and heart-related PH topics as well as controversies related to which patients might benefit from therapies approved for some, but not all classifications of this complex disease. The symposium will also include an interactive poster session on PH research.

The term, PH, is used to describe high blood pressure of the lungs from any cause. The increased pressure forces the right side of the heart to pump so hard to move blood into the lungs that it can lead to death from right heart failure. Symptoms are general and include shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. PH affects people of all ethnic backgrounds and ages — from infants to the elderly.  PH can exist alone or in association with other illnesses – cardiovascular disease, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, sleep apnea, lupus, scleroderma, sickle cell disease, HIV infection and others. Because patients go months, sometimes years, believing they have something other than PH, some studies have reported the average time between symptom onset and diagnosis can be as long as three years. Importantly, with early and accurate diagnosis, treatment can extend and improve the quality of life for many patients.

While there are 14 FDA-approved targeted therapies for two forms of PH — pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), PH due to old blood clots in the lungs — the treatments do not apply to patients with all types of PH.

Lung-related symposium topics include sleep apnea and whether it causes PH or is a related disease; screening for PAH in connective tissue disease patients; and the question, “Can PAH be diagnosed in the setting of interstitial lung disease?”

Among the lung-related presenters are: Marc Humbert, MD, PhD, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at South Paris University in France and Chairman of the French Network on Pulmonary Hypertension; Todd M. Kolb, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD; Virginia D. Steen, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director, Rheumatology Fellowship Program, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC; and ***Michael J. Cuttica, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. ***Stephen C. Mathai, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD will moderate the session.

Heart-related PH topics include the role of advanced cardiac imaging; management of acute right heart failure; and distinguishing PAH from PH due to heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

Heart-related presenters include Ahmed M. Gharib, MD, Senior Radiologist, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Director, Biomedical and Metabolic Imaging Branch National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; ***Jonathan D. Rich, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL and Medical Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago; and ***Anna R. Hemnes, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Assistant Director, Pulmonary Vascular Center at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. ***Erika Berman Rosenzweig, M.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics in Medicine and Medical Director at the Pulmonary Hypertension Center at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York City, NY will moderate the session.

Experts will also discuss the pros and cons of treating PH due to chronic lung disease with PAH specific therapies and treating heart failure with preserved ejection fraction with PAH specific therapies. Presenters include: Ioana R. Preston, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Center at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; and ***Paul M. Hassoun, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director, Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, MD; ***Raymond L. Benza MD, Professor of Medicine and Program Director, Advanced Heart Failure, Transplant, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Pulmonary Hypertension at the Allegheny Health Network; ***Jane A. Leopold, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. ***Oksana A. Shlobin, MD Co-Director INOVA Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program at Inova Medical Group, Falls Church, VA, and Jason M. Elinoff, MD, Assistant Clinical Investigator for the Critical Care Medicine Department, Clinical Center National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, will serve as session moderators.

Register to attend the free symposium here.

***Physicians affiliated with Pulmonary Hypertension Care Centers (PHCCs), facilities accredited by PHA.

Planning Committee

Christopher Barnett, MD MPH
Washington Hospital Center
Erika Berman Rosenzweig, MD
Columbia University
Nicole Cooper
PH Patient
Jason Elinoff, MD
Vallerie McLaughlin, MD
University of Michigan
Stephen Mathai, MD MHS
Johns Hopkins University
Oksana Shlobin, MD
Inova Fairfax Hospital
Michael Solomon, MD
Roham Zamanian, MD
Stanford University