The aetiology, clinical presentation and treatment of patients with pulmonary hypertension in Cape Town: A preliminary report from the Groote Schuur Hospital Pulmonary Hypertension Registry

S Davies-van Es, G Calligaro, K Manning, H Williams, K Dheda, G Symons


Background. There is a paucity of knowledge about pulmonary hypertension (PH) in sub-Saharan Africa and an urgent need for its investigation in this context. The impact of HIV infection in PH is also unknown. 

Objective. To determine the aetiology, clinical presentation, severity and current management of PH at a tertiary-level hospital in Cape Town, South Africa (SA). 

Methods. Demographic and clinical data, including from special investigations, were captured retrospectively for all patients referred to the Groote Schuur Hospital Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic between October 2015 and November 2017 (n=58) and entered into an online registry. Descriptive statistics were used to present the baseline data at enrolment. 

Results. Patients were mainly young and female and almost half (48.3%) had severe symptoms according to World Health Organization classification. The main aetiologies were pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and chronic thromboembolic PH. More than a fifth of the patients were HIV-positive, with nine patients presenting with HIV-associated PAH. The median time from initial presentation to referral to a specialist centre was 227 days (interquartile range: 72 - 625 days). Only a small number of patients were on PH-specific treatment at enrolment and a notable number never underwent right-heart catheterisation. 

Conclusion. PH diagnosis is often delayed and even at a tertiary institution with a dedicated clinic and access to special investigations, PH is suboptimally investigated and managed. Expansion of this registry to better understand the phenotype of this disease in SA can improve outcomes for these patients through awareness, early identification and effective management.

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