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Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the medication sotatercept, which traps activins that cause constriction of arteries in the lungs, leading to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Sotatercept targets a growth factor that is overproduced in PAH, reducing the risk of blood vessel thickening. The population with PAH is relatively small—diagnosed in 500 to 1,000 Americans annually and disproportionately affecting women between the ages of 30 and 60, according to the American Lung Association. The 5 year mortality is 43%.

Signs to watch for: Pulmonary arterial hypertension can cause high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness. Narrowed vessels eventually lead to heart failure. The American Lung Association recommends that newly diagnosed patients with PAH should be referred to an accredited pulmonary hypertension care center for thorough evaluation and heart catheterization.

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