How to Recognize Pulmonary Hypertension Explained by Dr. Muhammad Waqas

How to Recognize Pulmonary Hypertension Explained by Dr. Muhammad Waqas


I’m Dr. Muhammad Waqas. I work at CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute. I specialize in advanced congestive heart
failure and pulmonary hypertension. For the longest time pulmonary hypertension was
actually called an orphan disease because it was not thought of as much.
Hence, patients who had those symptoms, they were not considered to have pulmonary hypertension for a very long time. To this date, the average time of
diagnosis from symptom onset of pulmonary hypertension is about two and a half
to three years. So, by the time patients come to us they have been short of breath, but
have had those symptoms of pulmonary hypertension for at least two and a half
to three years. It is so unfortunate and in 1985 actually one of the biggest cities
with NIH showed that the symptom onset to diagnostic time was about two and a half
to three years and into 2018 and 2019, we still are struggling with
the same problem. Patients who get symptoms of pulmonary hypertension early on, by the time they
reach a pulmonary hypertension specialist and they’re diagnosed, it still takes two
and a half to three years. Things are slightly better because there is
more awareness among patients. There’s more awareness among physicians and
healthcare professionals to think about this disease and start working up
this disease early on. You wonder why it takes so long, because pulmonary hypertension
has almost exactly same symptoms that every other condition can have. The most
common symptom of pulmonary hypertension shortness of breath. As we know any other
disease state can cause shortness of breath, be it lung condition, heart
condition, low blood count, patients who have bad joint disease. All
those disease states can lead to shortness of breath. But there are some
distinct features of pulmonary hypertension that separate it from
other disease conditions. But as any young or old patient that goes
to physician complaining of shortness of breath, we look for simple disorders
first. Rightfully so. But now we are trying, with awareness, we’re trying to
improve that awareness among patient and and healthcare professionals to think
about this disease early on, if there are certain risk factors present in the patient
history profile.