Quantifying side effects and caregiver burdens of pediatric pulmonary hypertension therapies
Nelson EJ., Cook E., Nelson S., Brown R., Pierce M., Seelos AB., Stickle H., Johansen M.
Background and objectives: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a rare, but serious disease among children. However, PH has been primarily evaluated among adults. Consequently, treatment therapies have not been fully evaluated among pediatric populations and are used in an ‘off label’ manner. The purpose of this study was to estimate the side effect profiles of the most commonly prescribed pediatric PH therapies and to understand the burdens placed upon families caring for children living with PH. Methods: Participants were recruited online through the “Families of children with pulmonary hypertension” Facebook group and asked to complete a survey about PH treatments. Results: A total of 139 parents of a child living with PH completed the survey. Almost all children used ≥ 1 medication to treat PH, with 52% using ≥ 3 medications. The highest average number of side effects was reported by users of Treprostinil, Selexipag and type-5 phosphodiesterase (PDE5) inhibitors. The most common side effects were skin flushing, headache, nasal congestion, joint/muscle pain, and nausea. In terms of accessing care, 81% travel ≥ 20 miles and 68% travel for ≥ 60 min to receive care. Conclusions: We found an array of treatment combinations employed to mitigate symptoms of PH in children, with a wide range of side effects. We also found a large, unseen economic, emotional, and time burden of caring for a child living with PH. Further research is warranted to understand the clinical implications of these side effects to move towards labeled usage of these therapies rather than post-hoc off-label usage.