Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is severe condition that causes damage to the pulmonary arteries and consequently high blood pressure in the lungs. The pulmonary arteries are responsible for transporting blood from the heart right ventricle to the lungs, but because of the disease they become narrowed and blocked. The heart needs to work harder to properly pump the blood, which can make the organ weak and enlarged. The disease can result in numerous other diseases, right heart failure, and even death.
Shortness of breath (dyspnea), fatigue, dizziness or fainting spells (syncope), pressure and pain in the chest, swelling (edema) in the ankles, legs or abdomen (ascites), bluish color in the lips and skin (cyanosis), and irregular heart beat are among the most common symptoms of pulmonary hypertension. It is a progressive disease, which means that its symptoms get worse with time. However, the disease manifests differently according to the patients’ characteristics and subtype of disease.
Pulmonary Hypertension Prevalence
PH is considered a rare disease, but pulmonary hypertension prevalence depends on numerous factors. PH can occur as result of other conditions like lung or heart diseases, while it can also result from a congenital heart defect, connective tissue disease, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, liver disease (cirrhosis), or blood clots to the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension has an estimated prevalence of one to two cases in every one million Americans, differentiating in at-risk groups, according to the statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When the cause of pulmonary hypertension is unknown, it is called “idiopathic,” which occurs in about 40% of the cases. The majority of the cases is, however, related to other conditions, which is known as “associated pulmonary hypertension.” The prevalence of the disease among patients with systemic sclerosis is about 10%, with sickle cell disease is about 3%, and among HIV patients is 0.5%. Heritage is also particularly important for PH, but the exact percentage of patients with genetic-related PH is not known.
Factors That Impact Pulmonary Hypertension Prevalence
There are numerous factors that influence the onset of PH, including gender, age and race. The same CDC stats demonstrate that the disease is two to four times more common among women than men, with an average age at diagnosis around 45 years old. Non-Hispanic African-Americans are also particularly likely to suffer from PH, compared to the other ethnicities. However, the development of symptoms or of the disease can occur at any age and ethnicity.
“Certain PAH demographics, such as the prevalence of various PAH subgroups and preponderance of female patients, appear to have remained stable over time. Contemporary registry data indicate that the average age of patients diagnosed with PAH has increased, at least in the Western world. Older patients with PAH are more likely to be diagnosed with a more advanced stage of the disease, have lower exercise capacity and present with multiple comorbidities. They also have worse survival compared with younger patients,” is explained in the study “The changing landscape of pulmonary arterial hypertension and implications for patient care.”
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