ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Pulmonary hypertension is a disease that affects the blood vessels in the lungs. The symptoms of this disease during the initial stages are common to many other medical conditions such as difficulty breathing and feeling fatigued. With no current cure this can make finding treatments and the possibility of an improved quality of life even more difficult.
The cases of pulmonary hypertension are rising, but lack of education on the disease is causing some serious concerns among medical experts.
“People often don’t get discovered till very late when their hearts are already starting to fail,” explained Raymond Benza, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Young women in their childbearing age or people who have scleroderma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV, have a higher risk of developing the disease. And when found in men it’s even more deadly. If you have asthma, COPD or emphysema, or if you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, swelling in your ankles, legs and abdomen, and a racing pulse, you may want to get screened for pulmonary hypertension.
“Twenty years ago, there was no treatment and people died from this disease. Now, we have over 20 drugs to treat this disease,” continued Dr. Benza.
Spotting signs early can get your health on track before it’s too late.
Dr. Benza said recent effective screening techniques are helping those in the medical industry identify people with the disease much earlier on. He said this is also why the number of those diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension has risen because doctors are getting better at discovering it than they were in the past.
Contributors to this news report include: Jenna Ehrlich, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
PULMONARY HYPERTENSION: MORE COMMON THAN EVER?
BACKGROUND: Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects arteries in the lungs and right side of the heart. In one form of pulmonary hypertension, called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), blood vessels in the lungs are narrowed, blocked or destroyed. The damage slows blood flow through the lungs while blood pressure in the lung arteries rises. Your heart must work harder to pump blood through your lungs. The extra effort eventually causes the heart muscle to become weak and fail. In some people, pulmonary hypertension slowly gets worse and can be life-threatening. Although there’s no cure for some types of pulmonary hypertension, treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.
SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS: Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension do not usually occur until the condition has progressed. The first symptom is usually shortness of breath. Fatigue, dizziness, and fainting spells also can be symptoms. Swelling in the ankles, abdomen or legs, bluish lips and skin, and chest pain may occur as strain on the heart increases. A complete medical history, physical exam, and description of symptoms are necessary to rule out other diseases and make the correct diagnosis. Your doctor may order the following tests: blood test including complete metabolic panel; a doppler echocardiogram which uses sound waves to show the function of the right ventricle, measure blood flow through the heart valves, and then calculate the systolic pulmonary artery pressure; chest x-ray to show an enlarged right ventricle and enlarged pulmonary arteries; pulmonary function tests which evaluate for other lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; or a pulmonary angiogram which looks for blood clot blockages in the pulmonary arteries.
NEW TREATMENT OPTIONS: NYU Langone is making use of a newly approved by the FDA implantable pump for delivery of the blood-vessel widening agent, treprostinil. This system eliminates the need for an external intravenous catheter and daily cassette replacement in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. “As a specialized center, we have the ability to provide all treatment options to our patients, options that are often lacking in the community. Here, we are using a vast array of inhaled and oral formulations, as well as intravenous therapy,” said Roxana Sulica, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Medicine and the program’s director. In another ongoing trial, Dr. Sulica and investigators are testing the use of pulsed inhaled nitric oxide in pulmonary hypertension patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (PH-COPD), a form of the disease for which current treatments are ineffective. In addition to currently available therapies, the program is working to expand therapeutic options by providing patients with access to new classes of medications currently undergoing clinical trial.
* For More Information, Contact:
Amy Colgan, Public Relations
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