About Pulmonary Hypertension & Diagnosis

Srinivas Murali and his PH team at Allegheny General HospitalDr. Srinivas Murali and his PH team
at Allegheny General Hospital

Pulmonary hypertension (PH), or high blood pressure in the lungs, is a chronic and life-threatening disease that can lead to right heart failure, among other things, if left untreated.

Consider Pulmonary Hypertension

Many symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are commonly associated with asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, obesity or other common illnesses, but sometimes it is PH. It is important to consider pulmonary hypertension, especially if your patient has a disease associated with PH or if your patient is diagnosed with a disease with similar symptoms but treatments are not working.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension

Symptoms of PH may include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Angina Pectoris (chest pain)
  • Dizziness
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Fatigue
  • Edema of the arms, legs, ankles or abdomen
  • Dry cough
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon (chalky white or dusky blue fingers that may be painful and can sometimes be provoked by the cold)

In advanced stages of pulmonary hypertension, minimal activity may produce some or all of these symptoms. Patients in advanced stages may experience arrhythmia, syncope and difficulty breathing at rest.

Diseases Associated with Pulmonary Hypertension

Many pulmonary hypertension patients are diagnosed with PH in association with one or more related conditions. For instance, research shows that up to 30% of scleroderma patients, 20-40% of sickle cell patients and one out of every 200 HIV patients develop PH. Learn more about associated diseases

Why Early Diagnosis is So Important with Pulmonary Hypertension

While a number of treatments are available to help patients manage their disease and feel better day-to-day, there is currently no cure for pulmonary hypertension. Identifying a disease early is always important, especially for a progressive and often fatal disease like PH. The mean duration from symptom onset to a confirmed diagnosis by right heart catheterization is 2.8 years, but the median survival time without treatment is also approximately 2.8 years, making the need to obtain a rapid and accurate diagnosis urgent.* Learn more about the importance of diagnosing early

Specialists in PH Offer Critical Expertise on Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors who specialize in pulmonary hypertension have focused their practices on the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary hypertension. Because PH is a complicated disease to diagnose and treat, it is important that patients who are suspected of having PH also see a PH specialist. Why refer to a PH specialist | Locate a PH specialist in your area

PHA Online University
Medical Education about Pulmonary Hypertension & Diagnosis

Take courses, watch presentation recordings and read journal articles at PHA Online University to learn more about pulmonary hypertension on topics such as classification, diagnosis and testing, treatment, management of the disease and associated diseases. Learn more at PHA Online University

Learn about who is in the campaign's medical leadership

*The mean duration from symptom onset to a confirmed diagnosis by right heart catheterization is 2.8 years. Source: PHA International White Paper, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Recommendations for Improving Patient Outcomes (2011)
The median survival without treatment is 2.8 years. Source: National Institutes of Health (NIH) 1980 registry on primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH)

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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.