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CDC Report: Pulmonary Hypertension Deaths Have Increased Over Past Decade

Death rates significantly higher for women than for men

Deaths from pulmonary hypertension (PH) have increased over the past 10 years, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the study, published online in Chest, researchers examined death rates from the National Vital Statistics System and data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey between 2001 and 2010 to analyze trends in hospitalizations and death rates related to PH.

PH is characterized by increased blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, causing the right side of the heart to work harder. Common causes of the disorder include congestive heart failure, other heart diseases, birth defects of the heart, chronic lung disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The risk of PH increases in older persons.

“With expanding research into the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary hypertension, it is important to provide updated statistics on this disease’s impact on hospitalization and death rates,” said lead author Mary George, MD. “Increases in hospitalizations may reflect both improved recognition of pulmonary hypertension as well as an increase in treatment options.”

Key findings from the study include the following:

  • Death rates from PH rose more significantly for women at 2.5% per year, compared with a 0.9% per-year increase for men.
  • PH death rates in patients 85 years of age and older increased more than 65% between 2001 and 2010.
  • Approximately four in 10 deaths associated with PH occurred among patients under 75 years of age.
  • During the years studied, hospitalization rates for women increased 52%, whereas the rates for men increased 33%. Women typically have a higher rate of connective-tissue disease, which is associated with PH.
  • Women accounted for 61% of all PH hospitalizations in 2001–2002 and for 63% of hospitalizations in 2009–2010.
  • Congestive heart failure was the most commonly reported principal diagnosis at discharge, followed by other heart diseases (including PH) and chronic and unspecified bronchitis.
  • During the past decade, death rates for black patients were approximately 40% higher than for white patients.

“This study illustrates the importance of recognizing and diagnosing pulmonary hypertension so patients can receive proper treatment,” said Richard S. Irwin, MD, Editor in Chief of Chest. “It is essential information to aid clinicians in understanding the age, race, and gender differences in patients who are at risk for pulmonary hypertension.”

Source: Chest; April 3, 2014.

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