11.20.2014

Source: Bradford Times

1297632701317_ORIGINAL.jpgPulmonary Hypertension is a rare, debilitating, progressive and potentially fatal disease, affecting up to 10,000 Canadians – although it’s hard to know for certain.

Early symptoms are so general, that they are often misdiagnosed by attending physicians. Breathlessness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, fainting, chest pain – the signs of PH may be interpreted as anything from a heart condition, to Asthma.

In Pulmonary Hypertension, the arteries in the lungs harden and narrow, resulting in high blood pressure in the lungs, and potentially, an enlarged heart – and eventual heart failure. There is no cure, but there is treatment. Unfortunately, the longer PH goes undiagnosed, the worse the progressive disease becomes.

A recent survey by Harris Polling found that the time from first symptoms to diagnosis averages more than 2 years; 51% of respondents surveyed stated that their family doctor did not initially recognize the symptoms of PH, and did not refer them to the proper specialist.

The survey also found that 85% of those with PH experience mild to severe limitations while carrying out every-day activities. Sixty percent of respondents reported that they either no longer work, or have had to cut back, due to their symptoms.

And only 21% of patients felt they could manage to maintain employment without difficulty, once on medication.

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. This year, the PH Association of Canada will be holding 2 fundraisers at the BWG Leisure Centre – a week of swimming and walking competitions that encourages swimmers and walkers to raise funds while racing to see who can complete the most laps in 7 days (Registration Fee is $20); and the 6 Minute Walk for Breath, which will take place Thursday, November 27 from 10 a.m., to noon.

For more information, contact Ruth Dolan, Director at PHA Canada, at 905-775-3586.

Those with PH may suffer subtle discrimination, because the disease may be “invisible” to the public,and those with PH “often don’t look sick.” PHA Canada has now produced cards that can be handed out by sufferers, if they are challenged for parking in a handicapped parking space.

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