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National Audit of Pulmonary Hypertension 2015: number of new referrals increase by a fifth

12 February 2016: The number of new referrals for patients with pulmonary hypertension(2) has increased by just over a fifth (21 per cent) over the last five years, according to a national audit published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). The number of new referrals has risen from 1,789 in 2010 to 2,169 in 2015.

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

Pulmonary hypertension is the medical term for raised blood pressure within the pulmonary arteries which are the blood vessels that supply the lungs. It is a medical condition that can damage the right side of the heart, making the heart less efficient at pumping blood around the body and getting oxygen to the muscles.

The National Audit of Pulmonary Hypertension3 is a nationwide audit of the eight specialised pulmonary hypertension centres4 in the United Kingdom. The purposes of the audit are to describe clinical practice, provide information for future service planning and measure clinical outcomes.

In addition to the increase in the number of new referrals, a snapshot of the data on 31 March 2015 shows a 56 per cent increase in the number of patients that were being treated at the specialist hypertension centres5 reaching 6,671 in 2015 compared to the same date in 2010 where 4,287 patients were treated, the first year when the audit took place.

Today's audit also shows that the:

  • median age of patients treated with pulmonary hypertension drug therapies in Great Britain was 59 years in 2015, the same as 2014.
  • rate per million population of pulmonary hypertension (all types) referred to a specialist centre for Great Britain is 82, highlighting how rare the disease is.
  • percentage of patients having their first consultation or being discharged within 30 days was 43 per cent (855), while 89 per cent (1,470) were managed in 90 days6.

Five year survival is also reported for the first time which varied from a median of four years and 213 days to two years and 13 days, depending on the type of pulmonary hypertension7 the patient had.

The Audit Lead Clinician, Simon Gibbs said: "Today's report shows that despite pulmonary hypertension being a rare disease, the number of new referrals for treatment is steadily rising. The report also shows that specialist pulmonary hypertension centres are also having to deal with an increasing number of patients who need specialist treatments, reflecting an ever increasing awareness of pulmonary hypertension.

"I hope that the information contained within this report will be useful to all eight specialist hypertension centres and commissioners to help plan services that meet the needs of patients over the next 12 months. It should also help patients themselves, providing them with useful information about the clinical services available."

Today's report can be found at:


Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 260 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  2. Pulmonary hypertension is defined by a mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP) ≥25 mmHg at rest usually confirmed by right heart catheterization.
  3. The National Pulmonary Hypertension Audit has been prepared in partnership with the Health and Social Care Information Centre, National Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA UK), National Pulmonary Hypertension Centres of the UK and Ireland Physicians Committee, NHS England, National Services Division (NSD) and Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee. More information can be found here:
  4. All reporting of data in the audit is the responsibility of the specialised pulmonary hypertension centre irrespective of where the activity occurred. These are: (i) Golden Jubilee National Hospital; (ii) Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; (iii) Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; (iv) Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust; (v) Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust; (vi) Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; (vii) The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and (viii) Great Ormond Street Hospital
  5. The number of patients active at specialist hypertension centres is a total number of patients that were seen. In 2010, 4,287 patients were seen compared with 6,671 in 2015.
  6. In 2014-15 there were 2,151 first referrals, of which 1,979 were referred 30 days before the audit date giving them 30 days in which to have a consultation or be discharged and 43% (855) did have a consultation or be discharged. 1,699 were referred 90 days before the audit date giving them 90 days in which to have a consultation or be discharged and 89% (1,470) did have a consultation or be discharged.
  7. For idiopathic, heritable or anorexigen induced hypertension, the median survival time was four years and 104 days, connective tissue disease was three years and 335 days, left heart disease was four years and 213 days, lung disease was two years and 13 days.
  8. For media enquiries please call 0300 303 3888.
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