Skip to main content

What is pulmonary hypertension (PH)?

Pulmonary hypertension - or PH - is a condition that affects the arteries of the lungs, hindering the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. People living with PH suffer from continuous high blood pressure in the lungs, which results in an enlargement of the heart. If left untreated, this will often lead to a weakness of the right side of the heart, a serious type of heart failure.

It is vitally important that those who are at-risk of having PH or newly diagnosed get referred to a PH specialist for the best possible care and treatment.

What are the symptoms of PH?

  • Persistent or unexplained shortness of breath (especially upon exertion)
  • Chest pain
  • Bluish lips, hands, and feet
  • Dizziness upon standing, climbing stairs, straightening up from a bent position, or even while sitting
  • Fainting (also called syncope)
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Swollen ankles and legs (also called edema)

How is PH treated?

As the disease progresses, treating PH-physicians prescribe the available treatments alone or in combination to help alleviate the symptoms and slow progression. Once a combination of treatments is no longer effective, lung transplantation may be considered.

You can find an overview of available treatments in Canada by visiting this page.

PHA Canada is committed to ensuring fair and equitable access to PH medications for all Canadians. To find out more about our work advocating on behalf of the PH community, visit our Advocacy page.

More about Treatment

Quick Facts

Many people with PH in Canada spend two to three years seeking an accurate diagnosis. Alarmingly, without treatment, the average life expectancy of a person with PH is less than three years.

No cure currently exists for PH, with the exception of CTEPH, which may be cured through surgery.

A number of treatments are approved in Canada to slow progression of PH and alleviate symptoms.

Centres specialized in the treatment of PH in adults and children are located throughout the country.

It is estimated that approximately 5,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, but as many as 10,000 may be affected by the condition.

PH can strike anyone regardless of age, sex, or social/ethnic background.

PH is often an invisible illness; people who have PH may not look sick, even though they are.

PH has significant financial, social, and emotional impacts on patients and their families.