Pulmonologist discusses effects and treatment of pulmonary hypertension (includes video story)

Pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure in the lungs, disproportionately affects women and is often misdiagnosed or dismissed. This condition, which causes the blood vessels in the lungs to narrow and thicken, can lead to severe health complications if not detected and treated early. Experts emphasize the importance of recognizing symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, weight gain, abdominal or lower extremity swelling, chest pain and irregular heartbeat, all of which can be mistaken for more common ailments like asthma or anxiety.

Dr. Tim Lahm, a pulmonologist and researcher at National Jewish Health, highlights the critical need for early diagnosis and treatment of the condition. He notes that while there are approximately 15 FDA-approved drugs for treating the disease, ongoing research aims to develop more targeted therapies. The progressive nature of pulmonary hypertension means that without timely intervention, patients’ conditions can worsen significantly.

Particularly concerning is the impact of pulmonary hypertension on younger women and those who are pregnant or recently postpartum. Dr. Lahm advises that any pregnant individual experiencing unusual shortness of breath should seek medical attention promptly, since the can exacerbate during or after pregnancy.

Overall, the awareness and understanding of pulmonary hypertension’s signs and risks are crucial, especially during Women’s Health Week. Dr. Lahm and other experts advocate for greater vigilance and education to ensure women receive timely and accurate diagnoses, thereby improving their chances of effective treatment and better health outcomes.

Melissa Krikler is majoring in digital broadcasting with an area of concentration in psychology. She wishes to continue her studies after to receive a master’s.