What is pulmonary hypertension?
Shortness of breath, tiring more quickly and reduced capacity are amongst the early signs of pulmonary hypertension. Learn more about this rare chronic disease.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a chronic pathological increase in blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels that can result in a significant impairment of physical capacity. Due to its unspecific symptoms, it is often difficult to detect pulmonary hypertension. If it is not treated, it can be life-threatening.
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare disease
According to estimates, 125-425 people in Switzerland are affected by it and 8-25 new cases of the disease occur annually in Switzerland.
Diagnosing pulmonary hypertension is not easy
The complaints are at first often mild and may also indicate other diseases such as asthma, bronchitis or chronic fatigue syndrome. That is why it can take on average up to 2.5 years to make a diagnosis. This is valuable time in which the patient is not receiving any effective therapy.
The initial symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may include:
- Shortness of breath during physical exertion such as when climbing or going up stairs
- Increased fatiguability
- Feeling of tightness in chest
- Heart palpitations, faster heartbeat
- Dizziness during intense physical exertion
- Reduced capacity
In an advanced stage, these complaints may occur:
- Signs of a decreasing pumping power of the right heart, such as water accumulations in the legs (oedema) and distended jugular veins
- Intense chest pain, as in a heart attack
- Blue lips as a sign of reduced oxygen supply to the body, low or falling blood pressure readings in the systemic circulation
Treatment of pulmonary hypertension is done by a team of specialists
Only specialists with extensive experience can treat pulmonary hypertension because the therapy is complex and must be individually adapted to each patient based on the causes and symptoms. Therefore, it is important that those affected be treated in a specialised centre for pulmonary hypertension.
In Switzerland there are several specialised centres for pulmonary hypertension, so-called PH centres
In a PH centre, experts from different medical specialties collaborate in an interdisciplinary manner to enable patients with pulmonary hypertension to receive the therapy that gives them the greatest possible quality of life. The specialists are able to detect, diagnose and treat pulmonary hypertension. Moreover, PH centres are established for emergencies and offer those affected round the clock support.
The sooner pulmonary hypertension is diagnosed and treated, the sooner a patient can benefit from an improvement in the quality of his or her life. With our commitment, we wish to contribute to the clarification and early detection of the disease.
Support for patients
The Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Pulmonale Hypertonie SGPH [Swiss Society for Pulmonary Hypertension, SGPH] is a panel of experts and is available as a reference centre on the subject of pulmonary hypertension for physicians and patients.