Symptoms & Diagnosis

About PPH/PAH Symptoms and Diagnosis

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 500 to 1,000 people in the U.S. receive a diagnosis of primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) each year. Also known as pulmonary arterial hypertension, the disease is most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 20 and 40. However, men, women and children of all ages can develop PPH.

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Initial symptoms of PPH can be mild and easily confused with other conditions. They progress so slowly that people with PPH may ignore the symptoms, thinking they are just out of shape. Doctors, too, can easily overlook or misinterpret signs of the disease. PPH is not often diagnosed for many months or years after the initial onset of symptoms.

Typical symptoms of PPH may include:

  • Shortness of breath following exertion
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Dizziness, fainting and weakness
  • Ankle swelling
  • Bluish lips and skin
  • Chest pain

People who took the diet drug Fen-Phen may develop PPH symptoms within months of taking the drug or not until years later. The delayed onset of symptoms can further complicate the diagnosis.

Tests to diagnose PPH may include:

  • Echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, a recording of the heart's electrical current)
  • Right heart catheterization (to measure pressure in the pulmonary arteries)
  • Six-minute walk test to assess exercise capacity

Once PPH is diagnosed, further tests may be ordered to determine its cause.

From offices in San Francisco, California, the drug liability attorneys of Hersh & Hersh represent PPH victims throughout the nation. Our lawyers have decades of experience holding drug makers, including Fen-Phen's maker, Wyeth, responsible for their actions. To learn if we can be of assistance to you, please contact a lawyer at our firm to arrange a free consultation and case evaluation.

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