Original research

Pulmonary hypertension: Spectrum of disease, clinical presentation and treatment outcomes at the main respiratory pulmonary hypertension clinic in KwaZulu‑Natal Province, South Africa

M Dahim, M Mitha, C Connolly, K Nyamande


Background. There are many causes of pulmonary hypertension (PH). However, the aetiology, management and treatment outcomes in South Africa (SA), which has a high burden of HIV, are lacking in the literature. 

Objectives. To characterise patient demographics, aetiology, clinical presentation and management of patients presenting to the only government-funded PH clinic in Durban, SA. 

Methods. We retrospectively reviewed electronic charts of patients with confirmed PH who attended the respiratory PH clinic between 2011 and 2018. Demographic and clinical data, symptoms, pulmonary function testing, pulmonary artery pressure on echocardiography and treatment were analysed. Patients with group 2 PH were excluded from the present study as they were managed by cardiologists. 

Results. We identified 93 patients with confirmed PH and the majority were female (82.8%; n=77). The majority of the patients were between the ages of 30 and 39 years at the time of diagnosis. Most patients were black African (64.5%; n=60), followed by Indians (26.9%; n=25) and whites (8.6%; n=8). The most common cause of PH was group 1 (75%; n=70), followed by group 4 (13%; n=12) and then group 3 (12%; n=11). HIV-associated PH accounted for 27% of all patients and was the main cause of PH in those classified in group 1 (38%; n=29). Two-thirds (66%) of patients were treated with sildenafil, the only treatment that was available. Patients on treatment showed significant improvement indicated by the World Health Organization functional class, mean 6-minute walk test and reduction in mean pulmonary artery pressure on echocardiography. 

Conclusion. HIV-associated PH is the most common cause of PH in SA. Sildenafil, the only drug available in our setting, is beneficial to most patients with PH.

Authors' affiliations

M Dahim, Department of Pulmonology and Critical Care, Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

M Mitha, Department of Pulmonology and Critical Care, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, South Africa

C Connolly, Department of Biostatistics, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

K Nyamande, Department of Pulmonology and Critical Care, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Durban, South Africa

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Cite this article

African Journal of Thoracic and Critical Care Medicine 2021;27(1):6. DOI:10.7196/AJTCCM.2021.v27i1.118

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-03-09
Date published: 2021-03-09

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