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Pulmonary Hypertension

Our Pulmonary Hypertension Program is part of our Winchester Center for Lung Disease and is only one of a few programs in the nation accredited by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and currently the only program of its kind in the state. Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels and arteries in the lungs. When diagnosed quickly and treated properly, effective therapies help slow the progression of the disease and work to reverse any damage to the lungs and heart.

Our team of nationally recognized specialists offer a comprehensive program for the evaluation and treatment of pulmonary hypertension, acute and chronic pulmonary embolism, and unexplained shortness of breath. We offer advanced medical and surgical therapies, including pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (removes organized clotted blood, or thrombus, from the pulmonary arteries) for patients with chronic thrombo-embolic (chronic blood clots) pulmonary hypertension.

Our pulmonary hypertension specialists collaborate with physicians in cardiology, rheumatology, hepatology, cardiothoracic surgery, diagnostic radiology and pathology. The team also works with members of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, General and Advanced Heart Failure Program, the Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia Program and the Liver Transplant Program at Yale New Haven Health.

Symptoms

Symptoms for pulmonary hypertension can develop slowly. These symptoms include:

  • Chest pressure
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in legs or ankles

Diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis is important for treating the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension. Multiple tests are performed to determine the type of pulmonary hypertension. These diagnostic tests may include:

  • Advanced Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET) (evaluates unexplained shortness of breath not otherwise explained by routine tests)
  • Blood testing to investigative for possible infectious disease or connective disease cause of pulmonary hypertension 
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Genetic testing
  • Pulmonary function test
  • Right heart catheterization (used to see how much blood the heart pumps per minute, the blood pressure in your heart and in the main blood vessels in your lungs)
  • Submaximal Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test

Treatment

Treatment for pulmonary hypertension aims to improve and manage symptoms to help patients live the best quality of life. We work with patients and the care team to develop a comprehensive plan for each individual patient. Treatments vary, but can include:

  • Lung blood vessel dilators, which may include oral, inhaled, subcutaneous and intravenous medications
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy, an advanced surgical procedure to remove old blood clots in the lungs

If you are experiencing more severe symptoms, you may require surgery or transplantation.

 

Chere McGrath

Diagnosis, treatment and advocacy

Newly diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, Chere McGrath planned to ignore her cardiologist’s advice to make an appointment with specialists at Yale Medicine. After the life-changing decision to call, she is an advocate for others.

Read Chere McGrath's story on Yale Medicine

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