Pulmonary hypertension awareness week 9-15 November 2008
Lack of awareness of pulmonary hypertension is one of the reasons why it takes on average up to two years for a correct diagnosis of this rare lung disease. This year’s week-long campaign includes a series of national fundraising and press events, organised by the national charity, Pulmonary Hypertension Associated UK (www.pha-uk.com), and will culminate in the patient annual conference on 14 November.
What is pulmonary hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is raised blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs. This causes pressure on the heart which means it can’t work as effectively; over a long period of time, this strain leads to heart failure.
There are many causes, including connective tissue disease, conditions linked to blood-clotting problems, congenital heart disease and some chronic lung diseases, but there is often no obvious cause.
Around 7,000 people in the UK have PH. The main symptoms are breathlessness and tiredness, and average life expectancy without treatment is two and a half years.
The pulmonary hypertension unit at the Royal Free Hospital forms part of the National Pulmonary Hypertension Service (there are eight specialist units across the UK). We are the designated centre for PH associated with connective tissue disease. As we are a national service, we see patients from all over the UK as inpatients and outpatients.
Once a patient is referred to the unit we carry out specific tests, the main one being a cardiac catheter. Treatment depends on the severity of the disease and over the last 5-10 years a new range of treatment options have been available which has dramatically improved the outlook in PH.
Notes to editors
1) The pulmonary hypertension team is based in the rheumatology outpatient department on the lower ground floor.
2) For more information and to speak to a member of the team ring 020 7794 0500 ext38648
3) Further information and practical support is available from the patient association helpline: 0800 3898 156 or http://www.pha-uk.com
4) The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust is renowned for its specialist services including liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, renal, AIDS/HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, paediatric gastroenterology, ENT surgery and audiological medicine, amyloidosis and scleroderma. We run a major accident and emergency service, all branches of surgery and medicine, a renal service serving the whole of north London, paediatrics, maternity services, care of elderly people, an adolescent psychiatric service and one of two high security infectious diseases units in the country. We are a leading haematology centre and a major neuroscience base with a network extending throughout north London and into the Home Counties. We have associated internationally recognised research and training programmes. For more information visit www.royalfree.nhs.uk
We are a member of the academic health science partnership UCL Partners. The Royal Free was the only teaching hospital in London to be rated excellent for services and excellent for use of resources in the 2008 Healthcare Commission annual health check.