November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month. About 20,000 people in the United States are being treated for pulmonary hypertension (PH).
Mayo Clinic in Florida is one of 26 designated Pulmonary Hypertension and Vascular Disease Centers in the country, recognized based on patient volumes, comprehensive care, family support and research initiatives.
Pulmonologist Dr. Charles Burger, who directs the Florida clinical program, likens PH to “a kink that develops in a water hose." And like a kinked hose, pressure builds up, he says, forcing the right side of the heart to work harder to increase blood flow to the lungs. Eventually, the heart enlarges and fails.
“There are five different categories of pulmonary hypertension, so this can be a very difficult disease to diagnose and treat,” says Dr. Burger. Some patients require a heart transplant or a heart and lung transplant.
There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, although a small percentage of patients who are diagnosed with a sub-type of PH that causes blood clots in the lungs are essentially healed if they undergo a complex surgery known as pulmonary thromboendarterectomy. Mayo Clinic in Florida is the only center in the south offering this procedure.
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