Silver Spring, Md. (PRWEB) April 19, 2013
Colleen Connor of West Chester, Pa., never looked sick, but after childbirth this new mother found breathing and exertion increasingly difficult. Having been athletic in her youth, she was shocked to receive a serious diagnosis – the rare, chronic lung disease pulmonary hypertension (PH).
This diagnosis came only after she was first misdiagnosed with asthma, found asthma medication ineffective, and finally had her heart checked. She is fighting back against her disease and its misdiagnosis by letting others know of her experiences and by holding a gala benefit for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association April 27 at Springfield Country Club in Springfield, Pa.
Unfortunately, Colleen’s experience isn’t all that unusual. Misdiagnosis of PH happens often, sometimes repeatedly over several years while the condition worsens. A new effort to reach out to healthcare professionals is working to change that.
Just 20 years ago, misdiagnosis of PH didn’t matter much, because there were no drugs to treat the condition, which causes narrowing and stiffening of the vessels between the heart and lungs and can lead to heart failure. But with nine treatment options now, patients can live longer and better -- if enough medical professionals know how to differentiate PH from widespread illnesses with similar symptoms such as asthma, COPD and sleep apnea.
Dr. Darren Taichman, a PH specialist at Penn-Presbyterian Medical Center, can explain this disease and the challenges of diagnosing it. Taichman is a leader in a new initiative, Sometimes it’s PH (http://www.SometimesItsPH.org), to promote early diagnosis among U.S. medical professionals in primary and specialty care.