About Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)

What is Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)?
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a rare lung disorder where the blood pressure in the arteries in the lungs elevates putting pressure on the heart, reducing the amount of oxygen that’s able to reach the tissues of the body causing breathlessness & exhaustion. This can significantly impact on the sufferer’s ability to lead a normal life. PH can often lead to heart failure. It can be a standalone condition or associated with other diseases.

What Are The Symptoms?
Symptoms include chronic fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnoea), chest pain (angina), fainting, swollen ankles and legs (oedema), and fluid in the abdomen (ascites). These are also symptoms for other diseases such as congestive heart failure; therefore physicians should rule out other diseases before making a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension.

What Causes PH?
Pulmonary hypertension may develop after pregnancy, hypothyroidism, pulmonary embolism, autoimmune disorders, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection or result from the use of drugs such as appetite suppressants, oral contraceptives, and cocaine.

How common is PH?
PH affects people of all ages including young children. It is twice as common in women as men and the commonest age at presentation is 40 - 50 years old. Although there is no accurate record of the incidence of PH there are approximately 4,000 PH sufferers in the UK and it is estimated that there are an additional 4,000 undiagnosed sufferers.

Diagnosing PH
PH is frequently misdiagnosed die to its similarities to Asthma and often progresses to late stage by the time it is accurately diagnosed. People with PH experience a range of symptoms, the most common of which are breathlessness, dizziness, fainting, chest pain, palpitations and increased lethargy. These symptoms are described as "non-specific" which means it is quite difficult to diagnose

Can PH Be Cured?
PH has been historically chronic and incurable with a poor survival rate. However, new treatments are available which have significantly improved prognosis.With correct treatment and a faster diagnosis almost two thirds of PH patients will survive longer than 5 years, however if not treated, approximately half of PH patients die within two years.

For more detailed information on Pulmonary Hypertension, please contact a PH support organisation in your country or region.