Breaking Down the Barriers: Why the Delay in Referral for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension?

Ochsner J. 2016 Fall;16(3):257-62.


Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare and fatal disease. While many treatment options have been shown to improve quality of life, exercise tolerance, and hemodynamics in PAH, survival remains poor, in part due to the advanced stage at which patients present to PAH specialists.

Methods: This perspective paper explores challenges related to the timing of referral, diagnosis, and initiation of therapy.

Results: Multiple factors account for the delay in referral, including fallacies in physician education, commercial influence resulting in inappropriate prescribing practices, and barriers in access to care.

Conclusion: Improving physician education, encouraging the prescription of PAH medications to be done predominantly by PAH specialists, overcoming barriers to care, and promoting screening for PAH will help ensure early referral, diagnosis, and treatment.

Keywords: Delayed diagnosis; early diagnosis; health services accessibility; hypertension–pulmonary; inappropriate prescribing; pulmonary medicine; referral and consultation.

Publication types

  • Review