By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
We often hear that an ounce of prevention is better than the pound of cure, and this cliché is often neglected.
As early as 2007, there was already prevalence of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) in a group of Filipinos with connective tissue diseases (CTDs) and the mortality remains high, particularly among those with underlying scleroderma. The study further said that the early recognition and treatment are crucial in order to provide a better outcome for these patients. This is according to the study made by University of Santo Tomas Hospital and the St. Luke’s Medical Center published in Research Gate website: https://www.researchgate.net/,
As global and local health industries work together to make treatment and healthcare services accessible to patients, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (J&J) and the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) announced that they are collaborating on an awareness campaign for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) this November to improve diagnostic rates and increase the number of patients treated for the disease.
PAH is a type of Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) that occurs when the walls of the arteries leading from the right side of the heart to the lungs narrow and tighten. As a result, pressure in the lungs rises, leading to symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath.
It is a rare chronic and progressive disease whose effects can become deadly if not properly diagnosed and treated.
According to the Philippine Heart Center’s 2009-2012 single-center study, 82 out of 104 Filipino patients were found to have PAH within this period and was mostly seen in those between the ages of 20-40.
PCCP President Dr. Ivan Villespin however highlighted that there are no exact figures that determine the current prevalence of PAH in the Philippines, due to limited data. He also emphasized that it is critical to note that PAH is different from your usual systematic hypertension, otherwise known as “high blood pressure.”
He shared that because the disease can manifest a wide range of symptoms, PAH can be often misdiagnosed as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart diseases, asthma, and many others.
In providing patients with the right access to treatment and diagnostic resources, Dr. Villespin said, “It is important for us to take on a multi-disciplinary lens when it comes to diagnosing and treating patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. We must work together across different fields of specialization to holistically care for our patients, that we may move the needle towards prevention rather than reactive treatment.”
Through knowledge-sharing sessions and educational roadshows, J&J aims to bring its expertise in the management of PAH to Filipino healthcare practitioners and work together with local leaders and stakeholders to make diagnostic tests and proper treatment more accessible for patients.
Johnson & Johnson Philippines Head of Medical Affairs Dr. Erwin Benedicto shared, “Although PAH is a rare disease, the true prevalence is still unknown. As a healthcare company, we recognize that we play a key role in advancing the PAH advocacy in the Philippines.”
He added, “Together with our local partners and stakeholders, we aim to create a future wherein this disease becomes a thing of the past, and wherein every Filipino will have access to the right resources and information in how they can manage and overcome their PAH symptoms. That is our promise.”
Among the programs that J&J and the PCCP mentioned included the development of a referral system wherein specialists in the field of pulmonology, rheumatology, cardiology, and family medicine, will be able to work together in ensuring treatment and proper diagnosis is made available to patients.
Patients experiencing symptoms of PAH, such as labored breathing, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and fatigue, can visit their pulmonologist for consultation and proper diagnosis.
For more information on pulmonary arterial hypertension, you may visit the link: https://www.jnj.com/tag/pulmonary-arterial-hypertension