About Pulmonary Hypertension

Educating yourself and others about pulmonary hypertension is one of the greatest things you can do to create awareness of the disease. This section contains information about PH and its various types, as well as educational resources such as audio recordings from Conference sessions and access to seminars.

What is pulmonary hypertension (PH)?

Pulmonary hypertension, or PH, is a life-threatening and rare disease affecting the arteries of the lungs.  It can strike anyone regardless of age, sex, social or ethnic background. People affected with PH suffer from continuous high blood pressure in the lungs, which results in an enlargement of the heart. This can lead to heart failure.

PH is difficult to diagnose because it shares many of its symptoms with other conditions. Because of this, many people are misdiagnosed. Without treatment, the average life expectancy of a PH patient is less than three years. Ironically, many patients spend 2-3 years of their life seeking an accurate diagnosis.

It is estimated that approximately 5,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, but as many as 10,000 may be affected by the condition. PH is often an invisible health problem: people who have PH may not look sick. Currently, no cure exists for this disease, with the exception of CTEPH, which may be cured through PEA surgery.

What are the symptoms of PH?

  • Persistent or unexplained shortness of breath (especially upon exertion)
  • Chest pain
  • Bluish lips, hands and feet
  • Dizziness upon standing, climbing stairs, straightening up from a bent position, or even while just sitting
  • Fainting (also called syncope)
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Swollen ankles and legs (also called edema)

How is PH treated?

Since 1997, ten PH-specific treatments have been approved in Canada and thanks to these advancements, many patients are living longer and heathier lives. These treatments have meant that now, 50% of patients survive five years or more from diagnosis. New drugs are in medical trials. Research is leading to greater understanding of how the illness works. There is hope. 

To learn more about PH risk factors, how it affects the heart and lungs, the disease subtypes, diagnosis and treatments, visit the learn more page.

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