Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Prognosis and Life Expectancy

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  • What Is Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension?

    What Is Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension?

    Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a type of high blood pressure that occurs in the right side of the heart and in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. These arteries are called the pulmonary arteries.

    PAH occurs when the pulmonary arteries thicken or grow rigid. This makes blood flow more difficult. The heart has to work harder to push blood through the arteries, and the arteries aren’t able to carry adequate blood to the lungs.

    When this happens, the body can’t get the oxygen it needs. This causes someone with PAH to grow tired more easily. They may also experience shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness.

  • Life with PAH

    Life with PAH

    A combination of lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgeries may alter the progression of the disease. Treatment can add years to your life. Unfortunately, treatment can’t reverse the symptoms and damage caused by PAH.

    Even with proper treatment, PAH will grow worse gradually. Within a few years of developing the condition, everyday tasks, such as walking and showering, will be more difficult and eventually impossible.

  • Life Expectancy

    Life Expectancy

    Unfortunately, PAH has no cure. It will continue to worsen over time, even with proper treatment.

    According to the American Lung Association, about 50 percent of people who have been diagnosed with PAH will die from the disease within five years. Treatment can extend life expectancy, but people diagnosed with PAH who don’t receive adequate treatment live an average of three years.

  • What Is a Functional Status?

    What Is a Functional Status?

    Doctors use a standard system to rank a person’s “functional status.” A person’s functional status can tell you a lot about how severe the PAH has become.

    The progression of PAH is divided into four stages. The number assigned to a person’s PAH explains how easily they’re able to perform daily tasks, and how badly the disease has limited their activities.

  • Functional Status: Classes I and II

    Functional Status: Classes I and II

    Class I: At this stage, PAH doesn’t limit your usual activities. If you do ordinary physical activities, you don’t develop any symptoms of PAH.

    Class II: In the second class, PAH only mildly affects your physical activities. You may experience no signs of PAH at rest, but physical activity may quickly cause symptoms, including breathing problems and chest pain.

  • Functional Status: Classes III and IV

    Functional Status: Classes III and IV

    The final two functional status classes indicate that PAH is growing progressively worse.

    Class III: At this point, you have no discomfort or symptoms when at rest. But, it doesn’t take a lot of physical activity to cause symptoms and physical distress.

    Class IV: If you have class IV, you can’t perform physical activities without experiencing severe symptoms. Breathing is labored, even at rest. You may grow tired easily, and small amounts of physical activity can make your symptoms worse.

  • Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Programs

    Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Programs

    Despite the diagnosis, it’s important that you remain as physically active as possible while you can. However, strenuous activity can be bad for your body. Finding the right way to remain physically active with PAH can be challenging.

    Your doctor may recommend supervised cardiopulmonary rehabilitative sessions to help you find the right balance. Trained healthcare professionals can help you create a program that will provide adequate exercise without pushing you beyond what your body can handle.

  • How to Be Active with PAH

    How to Be Active with PAH

    A PAH diagnosis means that you’ll face some restrictions. For example, most people with PAH shouldn’t lift more than 50 pounds. Heavy lifting can increase blood pressure, which could complicate and even accelerate symptoms.

    While it’s true that advanced stages of PAH can grow worse with physical activity, having PAH doesn’t mean you should avoid activity entirely. Your doctor can help you understand your limitations.