In September, 2007 the 3rd Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) Resource Network Symposium held in Crystal City, Virginia was a fantastic success, with a huge (>350) attendance of health professionals including nurses, nurse practitioners, and respiratory therapists convening to teach, learn and network with other allied health professionals. This year, Pulmonary Hypertension Resource Network hopes to outdo it self again. The program, titled "Leading Progress, Creating Partnerships: Empowering the Interdisciplinary PH Team" will again be held in Crystal City, VA, September 24-26, 2009.
In addition to the PH Resource Network symposium, several additional PHA programs have been in development this past year, all focused on improving education for PH practitioners and patients. These programs have been enabled by the recently created PHA Medical Education Fund, with $2 million in unrestricted educational industry grants, and include the PH Preceptorship program, PHA Online University, and the 30 City Program and PHA on the Road Educational programs for PH patients. Undeniably, this "explosion" of PH programs in medical education reflects the rapidly growing interest in this field and speaks to the overwhelming success of PHA in its mission to find ways to prevent and cure PH, and to provide hope for the PH community through support, education, advocacy, and awareness.
In addition to these medical education programs, we have seen rapid advances in therapies for PAH which have enabled practitioners to choose from several targeted therapies for their patients. During this time, we have also gained a better understanding and appreciation for the multitude of diagnostic and prognostic modalities that have resulted from improvements in biotechnology, and we can now better appreciate the physiological aberrations caused by pulmonary vascular disease in our patients.
There are many scientists and clinicians with refined expertise in echocardiography and in MRI as well as in invasive hemodynamics and exercise physiology, not to mention those who avidly study a host of clinically relevant biomarkers. Each expert can readily demonstrate the many attributes that their specialized modality offers, and can provide a unique clinicopathologic perspective on pulmonary vascular disease.
Dr Francisco Soto served as the Guest Editor for this issue, which focuses on several diagnostic modalities used to study PAH patients, and provides a view from the experts that have studied these modalities in great detail. From this information, it is clear that several markers of PAH severity can be considered valuable tools that enhance our understanding of PAH pathophysiology, but no single test can be accepted as a gold standard. Indeed, as evidenced by the Expert Roundtable in this issue, some of the issues surrounding the utility and performance of these tests have been somewhat controversial.
It is my hope that the contents of this issue will not only help your understanding of the diagnostic challenges facing PAH clinicians, but also stimulate new growth in this field and catalyze additional research initiatives to further our knowledge base in pulmonary vascular disease.
Ronald J. Oudiz, MD