Accreditation highlights advances in pulmonary hypertension treatments, research
UT Southwestern is one of the first medical centers in the country—and the only one in Texas—to complete the Pulmonary Hypertension Association's new accreditation program for Pulmonary Hypertension Care Centers.
To be accredited, a facility must be a leader in both treatment and research. In addition, accredited centers must have sophisticated medical facilities to meet all patient needs.
“An accredited Pulmonary Hypertension Care Center is not just an institution that treats patients; it also has to be involved in clinical trials and moving the field forward,” says Fernando Torres, M.D., who developed UT Southwestern’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program 15 years ago. Today, UTSW ranks among the top 10 largest pulmonary hypertension centers in the country.
UT Southwestern’s program has played a role in the development of a number of new medications. Pulmonary hypertension was untreatable until the late 1990s, when the first drug, an intravenous medication, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Now there are seven oral, two inhaled, and two intravenous medications in use. UT Southwestern was involved in key clinical trials during the development of six of those medications.
Pulmonary hypertension occurs when blood vessels in the lungs become blocked or damaged, which makes it harder for blood to flow through the lungs, where the blood picks up oxygen.
“Pulmonary hypertension can have many causes, including heart problems and lung diseases such as emphysema,” says Kelly Chin, M.D., Director of UT Southwestern’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program. “The key to treatment is making an accurate diagnosis. Recommended medications and other therapies will differ depending on the type of pulmonary hypertension and any associated medical conditions.”
She adds, “It’s certainly treatable, and patients can achieve a significant improvement in quality of life with today’s medications.”
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