Global Update: Team PH Brazil

June 03,2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the lives of those in the PH community upside down, not only in the United States, but on a global scale. Each week we will be sharing an update from one of our global teams, detailing how PH patients in their country have been impacted, how they are coping, and how we are moving forward together.

Team PHenomenal Hope Brazil and the Brazilian Pulmonary Hypertension Association (ABRAF) have the mission to provide care for people living with lung and heart diseases and their relatives. With the new coronavirus pandemic, our team worries about keeping pulmonary hypertension (PH) patients home and safe. They need to avoid going to hospitals to the best of their abilities. Not only are they at risk of getting the virus, but emergency room professionals may also confuse their underlying illness with COVID-19.

Many of the patients we serve are avoiding going to the emergency room because of these fears. Although caution is necessary, it is important to inform them of how to self-manage the disease and know when is the best time to go to the hospital. Neglecting their health can be fatal, so monitoring symptoms is fundamental to know when to act.

This is why a pulse oximeter is an essential tool to record symptoms and detect early pneumonia, as recommended by the medical team at Bellevue Hospital, reported by the New York Times. Patients with COVID-19 take longer, even days, to identify more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath. Measuring their blood oxygen levels at home, patients can monitor these symptoms and determine if he or she is experiencing more than usual symptoms. If using the pulse oximeter, they can quickly look for medical assistance when their saturation is below 92%, the silent hypoxia, or a rapid drop that is hard to detect, but common in severe cases of COVID-19.

Families with PH patients in Brazil have historically had lower incomes given that patients become partially or completely unable to work. In a study with more than 330 patients from all regions of Brazil in 2019, ABRAF identified that 48% live with a monthly family income of less than $350 USD and 60% struggle to pay for basic needs such as transportation and food.

The Brazilian government passed an emergency financial aid for people with low income, giving them $100 USD for a month (lower than the $166 USD minimum wage). This amount does not meet their needs whatsoever. An oximeter, for example, costs $30. A food emergency kit is sold for $35.

Team PH Brazil has in turn started the Unmet Needs Patient Impact Fund in Brazil. This is an emergency support for patients and their families. It needs your help now to provide the PH community the best care and attention that they so much deserve during this delicate moment of their lives. We are raising funds in the United States and Brazil with a crowdfunding campaign to donate food survival kits, oximeters, and face masks for PH patients.

We cannot leave these patients in need unaided. We need to act now. We need to unite in a global movement. We need you! Click here to learn more about this initiative or donate.

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