2010-11-20 / Editorials & Letters

It’s PH awareness month


November is Pulmonary Hypertension awareness month. What is Pulmonary Hypertension? It is a life threatening disorder often described as high blood pressure in the lungs. Currently, there are over 100,000 people known to live with PH. It is easily misunderstood and therefore, misdiagnosed.

Pulmonary Hypertension occurs when the blood vessels that supply the lungs, narrow, and their walls thicken, so they can’t carry as much blood. The pressure builds up and the heart has to work harder trying to force the blood through. This causes the main symptom of PH, severe shortness of breath. The heart gets larger, and the cause of death for a PH patient is often heart failure. Without treatment, PH is nearly always fatal. Today with treatment, the prognosis is a little brighter. There are a number of treatments including oral and IV medication. Many patients are on both.

Most Americans have never heard of PH and do not know that symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and dizziness are common indicators of the illness. Without that knowledge, many accept improper diagnosis and lose precious time in treating PH. Early diagnosis remains the best defense against PH. Quality of life and effectiveness of treatment are maximized when diagnosis is early in the onset of illness.

Raising awareness about PH can save lives. To obtain more information about PH, visit their web site at www.PHAssociation. org.
Michael J. Murtha

Return to top