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Pulmonary Hypertension patient pathway

Your referral to the Scottish Pulmonary Vascular Unit (SPVU) will have been made by your local hospital consultant, usually a Respiratory, Cardiology or Rheumatology consultant because they suspect you may have Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH).

The time between your referral letter being received by the SPVU and an appointment being given is less than 12 weeks but you will often receive your appointment within 4 weeks.

Consultation appointments

New referrals are seen weekly, on a Wednesday afternoon, and you should expect your clinic visit to last at least 2 hours.​

You will have an echocardiogram and chest x-ray before seeing the SPVU doctor. An echocardiogram is when ultrasound is used to display a picture of the heart at work. You will be asked to lie on your left side and a jelly like substance is placed onto your skin. The technician moves a device, a bit like a microphone, called a transducer over your chest at various angles. The echo looks at your heart and can estimate the blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries as well as the volume of blood being pumped from the heart with each beat.

You may also be asked to perform a test called spirometry. This test provides information about the amount of air a person’s lungs can hold and how effectively they work. It is important to establish if increased breathlessness over time is due to PAH or another lung condition.​

Once these tests are complete, you will be seen by a Pulmonary Vascular doctor who will ask lots of questions about your past and current health as well as physically examine you. A family member may be present if you wish.​

Following the consultation, one of three things will happen:

  1.  You will be informed that we do not think further investigations are appropriate for you and a full explanation given. A letter explaining this in detail will be sent back to your local hospital consultant with our recommendations for future management.​
  2. You will be informed that although we believe you do not have PAH at present, there is a possibility that you are at risk of developing it in the future. A follow up appointment may be given, further tests organised, or recommendations for monitoring your health will be sent to your local hospital consultant.
  3. You will be informed that we believe you may have a condition called Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, and further tests are required to confirm this diagnosis.

If you require further test you will be introduced to one of the specialist nurses within the unit. The nurse will talk to you about arranging a 4-day admission (3 nights stay) to the Golden Jubilee University National Hospital so a complete assessment of you and your symptoms can be carried out. 

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