Primary pulmonary hypertension is a disease affecting the heart, lungs and the arteries that connect them. It is not well understood, but between 500 and 1,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. The disease is most common in women 20 to 40 years old, but it can affect men, women and children. Doctors aren’t completely sure what causes the disorder, but they believe there are several risk factors. Unfortunately, PPH is difficult to diagnose, as it is a slowly progressing disease. To catch it, a doctor must be test thoroughly and investigate the patient’s family medical history.
PPH is also known as idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. IPAH is difficult to explain, because it occurs even without underlying heart or lung disorders. Many doctors believe that an inherited genetic defect may be a major risk factor, though appetite suppressing drugs like dexfenfluramine are also linked to the condition. Primary pulmonary hypertension occurs when vasoconstriction of the vessels feeding oxygen the lungs restricts blood flow. This, in turn, increases blood pressure in the lungs. Fibrosis and hypertrophy of the heart also increase blood pressure further, which eventually leads to cardiac failure.
There is no cure for PPH at this time, and effective managing of the disease requires early detection. Early symptoms are fairly minor and usually include fatigue, chest pain and elevated heart rate. These non-specific symptoms can cause the doctor to misdiagnose the patient. Eventually, these symptoms will worsen, and the patient may also become faint or lightheaded following routine physical activity. By the time the disease is caught, there may already be significant damage done to the heart and lungs.
Many diagnosed with PPH decide to contact a legal professional in order to weigh their options for seeking compensation.