Get the PHacts
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a rare but very complex and serious lung disease that is progressive and potentially fatal. PH is defined by high blood pressure in the lungs resulting from inflammation or scarring in the pulmonary arteries. If left untreated, PH can lead to enlargement and weakness of the right-side of the heart, a serious type of heart failure.
PH shares a number of its symptoms with other conditions, resulting in many people being misdiagnosed. Without treatment, the average life expectancy of someone with PH is less than three years. Alarmingly, many patients spend more than two years seeking an accurate diagnosis. While there is currently no cure for PH, thanks to available treatments, many patients are living longer, healthier lives.
Who can develop PH?
PH can strike people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders and can develop without any known cause (idiopathic PH). However, some individuals are at greater risk of developing PH due to pre-existing conditions, family history, or the use of certain drugs. The following conditions may increase the risk of developing PH:
- Blood clots in the lungs
- Connective tissue disease (including scleroderma and lupus)
- Congenital heart disease
- Liver disease
- HIV infection
What are the symptoms of PH?
PH is often referred to as an invisible chronic illness; people living with the disease may not look ill. Because PH is a progressive disease, symptoms can go unnoticed at first and slowly develop until they cannot be ignored. The most common symptoms of PH include:
- Shortness of breath
- Exercise intolerance
- Chest pain
- Bluish lips, hands, and feet
- Swollen ankles/feet or legs
PH in Canada
- It is estimated that approximately 5,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with PH, but as many as 10,000 may be affected by the condition.
- PH has significant financial, social, and emotional impacts on patients and their families.
- A number of treatments are approved in Canada to slow disease progression and alleviate symptoms.
- Centres specialized in the treatment of PH in adults and children are located throughout the country.
About PHA Canada
PHA Canada is a federally registered charity whose mission is to empower the Canadian pulmonary hypertension (PH) community through support, education, advocacy, awareness, and research. PHA Canada was established in 2008 to represent a united Canadian PH community—including patients, caregivers, and health care providers—and to better the lives of all Canadians affected by pulmonary hypertension.
Learn more at www.phacanada.ca.