US Veterans with Pulmonary Hypertension Are Not Treated with Exercise Rehabilitation

According to Healio, US veterans affected by pulmonary arterial hypertension are typically not treated with exercise rehabilitation, despite the fact that many medical professionals believe that utilizing exercise rehabilitation in PAH patients will provide better outcomes. Data presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference confirmed this.

About Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)

PAH is a form of high blood pressure that causes the pulmonary arteries of the lungs to progressively thicken and harden. The heart then has to work harder to get blood to the lungs, which can result in damage and possibly failure. Symptoms may not appear until there has been considerable progression, but when they do appear they include fainting, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, and swelling in the ankles and legs. These are caused by a mutated BMPR2, which plays a role in the growth and death of cells. It is passed down in an autosomal dominant pattern. In cases of secondary hypertension, the cause is another disease or the use of certain street drugs.

PAH and Exercise Rehabilitation

Data taken from the Veterans Affairs records shows that only 1.6% of 111,356 veterans with PAH had been treated with exercise rehabilitation in the year following their diagnosis. While this percentage did increase from 2010-2016, it did not increase in every form of PAH. Those with the primary form of the disease and those with the secondary form caused by chronic thromboembolic disease did not see an increase in exercise rehabilitation.

Dr. Thomas Cascino, a fellow at the University of Michigan, says that there is need for improvement, as he believes that exercise rehabilitation will help those with PAH. He decided to look into the reason as to why this therapy is not used as heavily and found that issues with insurance reimbursement contribute, but they are not the only problem. He advocates for more awareness, on both the patient and provider side. Working towards expanding exercise rehabilitation, he has begun a trial of wearable technology that can be used at home. This tech will help those who are unable to go to a center for their treatment. Hopefully this research and other expansions of exercise therapy will help those with PAH.

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