A recent conversation further revealed that Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is still widely obscure in Nigeria.
Sharing in detail about Pulmonary Hypertension; a disease I was diagnosed with six years ago, the respondent said “oh I understand, my brother has been managing the same illness for so long, he is hypertensive.”
Pulmonary Hypertension due to its unawareness in Nigeria is widely confused with hypertension, but they are two different diseases.
Pulmonary hypertension is a severe and highly progressive disease defined by high blood pressure in the lungs that can cause right heart failure and death. It is a rare disease but it exists in Nigeria, yet it is widely unheard of and in the dark.
The ignorance surrounding pulmonary hypertension in Nigeria reduces significantly chances of survival of people living with the disease.
It is often undiagnosed and misunderstood, it is easily mistaken for other heart and lung diseases like asthma. Delay in diagnosis and treatment of this complex progressive disease can be fatal.
Pulmonary Hypertension makes the pulmonary arteries (the blood vessels that transport blood from the heart) become narrowed and thickened, making it difficult for blood to flow through and as a result causing the heart to work harder.
Over time, the heart becomes enlarged and weak which can lead to the development of right heart failure.
People living with PH can present a number of symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, cyanosis (blue tinted lips, skin or nails), fainting spell, lightheadedness, oedema (swelling in legs, ankles or feet).
Symptoms of PH might not be noticeable in its early stages, but as the disease progresses, symptoms become worse. PH is also mostly diagnosed at the advanced stage.
The disease affects people of all ages, gender, race and ethnic background but certain risk factors increases the chances of one developing PH.
The complex disease can be associated with other conditions including: Congenital heart defects, HIV infection, Blood clots in the lungs, Connective tissue disorders such as; scleroderma, lupus etc, left heart disease; such as heart valve disease and Lung disease.
No known cure exists for pulmonary hypertension, however there are treatment options that help improve the quality of life of people living with the disease and reduces progression of the disease. Unfortunately very few of this treatment are available in Nigeria.
The month of November is dedicated to raise awareness for Pulmonary Hypertension globally. Cardiac Community; a NGO in Nigeria designed to raise awareness of cardiovascular related diseases and support people affected by these diseases, have launched a campaign tagged “shinealightonph” to raise proper awareness of this deadly disease in Nigeria.
Its goal is to shed more light on this obscure condition and also educate Nigerians on the importance to understand and be aware of pulmonary hypertension because as early diagnosis and proper treatment can be life- saving.
Participate in this campaign and help #shinealightonph so as to raise the proper awareness on pulmonary hypertension in Nigeria.
By Ayotunde Omitogun (Living with Pulmonary Hypertension)
Visit: facebook and Instagram @walk4ph, @cardiaccommunity twitter @cardiaccomm website www.cardiaccommunity.com – For more information