On May 5th we celebrate World Pulmonary Hypertension Day. We aim to bring awareness to pulmonary hypertension (PH), a condition that affects the lungs and heart. And if you’re reading about pulmonary hypertension for the first time, you’re probably wondering what exactly it is.
World Pulmonary Hypertension Day has a great explanation here, but in a nutshell, pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs. Over time, the arteries in the lungs become damaged; they become stiffer and progressively narrower, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the lungs. This increases the blood pressure within the lungs and impairs their blood flow. All of this puts a strain on the right side of the heart in particular, as it pumps blood to the lungs. If left untreated, pulmonary hypertension can lead to heart failure and death.
Symptoms of PH can include shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. Because these symptoms are so common and can be associated with less threatening illnesses, pulmonary hypertension can be misdiagnosed, or worse, not diagnosed because individuals do not get it checked out. With early detection, proper treatment can extend and improve patients’ quality of life.
It is estimated that roughly 5,000 Canadian are diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, but as many as 10,000 may be affected by the condition. Anyone can get pulmonary hypertension; it affects adults, children, men, women, and people of all ethnic backgrounds. It can also be linked to pre-existing health conditions such as lupus, heart disease, and HIV, to name a few. Many people with PH in Canada spend two to three years seeking an accurate diagnosis. Alarmingly, without treatment, the average life expectancy of a person with PH is less than three years.
Being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension can be an overwhelming experience, but it is important to let those diagnosed with PH know that they are not alone, There is currently no cure for pulmonary hypertension, but there are many treatments available to improve quality of life. Pulmonary Hypertension Association of Canada provides a number of Resources: For Those Newly Diagnosed, Caregivers, Community Support, and Clinical Trials.
If you feel concerned that you might be at risk of pulmonary hypertension, contact your primary care provider.
GOeBlogger is a health enthusiast and avid reader living and thriving in vibrant Vancouver. When she's not nerding out at her laptop, you can find her exploring the beautiful BC coastline with her dog.
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