To the Editor:
November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. As a PH patient, I’m very involved in helping raise awareness of this insidious disease.
Pulmonary Hypertension is a deadly disease that is characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs. It is often referred to as the “other” high blood pressure. Early symptoms can be easily confused with other illnesses and can be very subtle (shortness of breath when walking inclines or stairs, chest pain, fatigue, swollen ankles, dizziness, bluish tint of skin, nail beds, or lips; hoarseness). If left untreated, PH is often fatal. Although it can affect persons of all ages and backgrounds, it predominately strikes women in the prime of their lives (between the ages of 20 and 40).
Early detection is very important in the treatment of PH. Research has come a long way in the last ten years and continues to progress. We are hoping a cure is on the way. PH is considered a rare disease, but it is becoming a widespread belief that it is severely under-diagnosed and is much more common than is currently thought.
The best way to detect PH is to go to your cardiologist and have a test called an echocardiogram. It is noninvasive and can detect if further investigation is needed. If you know of anyone who is suffering from the early symptoms of PH, please encourage them to see a cardiologist. They may or may not have PH, but unusual shortness of breath and fatigue can be the signs of many health issues and should not be left untreated.
I was diagnosed in March of this year, after suffering from sudden shortness of breath for about a month. I am being treated with medication right now, but it is a progressive disease that only gets worse with time. Mine is considered idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause.
Most people die from PH because of late detection or no detection at all. Awareness is the key to fighting PH.
KATHY PRATKO LAYTOS