November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

11.02.2015

Source: Rocky View Weekly

November 2015 has been proclaimed Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) Awareness Month, thanks to Rocky View County (RVC) council voting 7-1 to approve a request submitted by Langdon resident Heather Zloty.

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“This is an effort by families affected by PH to try to get their cities and counties to work with us to raise awareness about this disease,” said Zloty, whose four-year old daughter Olivia was diagnosed with PH last year. “There are so many common symptoms that get misdiagnosed as asthma or COPD, so if people start to know and recognize these symptoms as potentially being PH, people can get treatment sooner and have a better life.”

PH is a chronic, life-threatening lung disease marked by elevated blood pressure in the lungs, and without treatment, PH patients live an average of 2.8 years past diagnosis. Multiple treatments are available for PH, but it takes patients an average of three years to be accurately diagnosed.

According to Zloty, Olivia’s diagnosis came when the disease had already progressed, but she said if they had been aware of PH, they likely could have gotten a diagnosis a year earlier. Many of the symptoms Olivia struggles with could be easily overlooked – fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate – but are incredibly frustrating for a little girl who is unable to keep up with her brothers.

She is still participating as much as she can, Zloty said. Olivia recently started ballet lessons in Langdon, which Zloty said has been an exciting opportunity for her to participate in her first “unparented” activity.

“It’s hard because she looks so normal – unless you know what’s going on with her inside, you would have no idea,” Zloty said. “That’s why it’s so important that this awareness is there – not just in Langdon, but everywhere.”

With council’s proclamation and the support of the community, Zloty plans to raise awareness on a personal level throughout the month of November – by knocking on doors and visiting neighbours with Olivia. However, Olivia’s most recent visit to her doctors in Edmonton revealed that the disease is progressing again.

“It’s really not the news we wanted – we thought she was doing pretty good,” Zloty said. “So now we are back to playing with medicines and increasing her dosages. Having council recognize the value of this proclamation and helping us raise awareness was just the kind of good news we needed.”

Area Councillor Rolly Ashdown moved that council approve Zloty’s request. Despite comments from Councillor Liz Breakey encouraging council to “show some humanity,” the motion did receive opposition from Councillor Jerry Arshinoff.

“I certainly sympathize with the people involved and it is an extremely severe condition, but I think if we were going to expend funds, we would be far better off donating to scientific research,” Arshinoff said. “I can’t see that any municipality has the right to use taxpayer money for this, while I mean no disrespect.”

Ashdown’s second motion requesting administration prepare a report on managing proclamation requests be presented to council at a Policy and Priorities Committee meeting in December was carried unanimously.

Langdon residents can expect to see more PH related fundraising events and activities throughout the month of November.

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