Pulmonary arterial hypertension took the life of singer Natalie Cole

U-M expert weighs in on the disease

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The recent death of singer Natalie Cole from complications of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) has raised many questions about this rare lung disease.

Dr. Vallerie McLaughlin, director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, offers insight into this challenging disease:

  • Approximately 25 to 50 people per million have pulmonary arterial hypertension.
  • The condition predominantly affects women in their 40s and 50s. In fact, women diagnosed with PAH outnumber men with the condition 3:1.
  • Shortness of breath is the most common symptom. Others include lightheadedness, fatigue, chest pain and lower extremity edema.
  • Diagnosis is typically suspected based on an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and confirmed with a right heart catheterization.

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Pulmonary hypertension treatment options make the difference

Sharon Stewart's doctor gave her 2 years to live … 11 years later she's planning a 2-month road trip to Alaska

PH Patient blog

Sharon Stewart is no stranger to many of southeast Michigan’s healthcare facilities. For years, the now 64-year-old went from doctor to doctor, trying to find someone who could diagnose her increasingly debilitating condition, which was causing severe symptoms, including high blood pressure, excruciating migraines, bleeding in her eyes and fainting spells. She was finally diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH) — high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries of the lungs. PH can have no known cause, can be genetic or can be caused by drugs or toxins. It can also occur because of an underlying disease or health issue.
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U-M doctors lead research studies on rare heart diseases

February 28 is Rare Disease Day

researcher blog

Researchers at University of Michigan are leading the way in identifying and developing treatment for rare cardiac diseases.

Rare diseases affect almost 25 million Americans. Worldwide, there are more than 6,000 rare diseases. The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a leader in treating many rare heart diseases. As an academic hospital, U-M researchers are at the forefront of studies aimed at identifying and treating unique cardiac diseases.

According to Dr. Santhi Ganesh, a specialist in cardiology and genetics at the University of Michigan, “Our doctors take a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to research projects as we share knowledge.”

Dr. Ganesh believes that more rare diseases are being identified because of advancements in the study of genetics and new technologies. “It’s important that we continue to fund research into the study of rare diseases. We need to keep up in this important area.”

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Pulmonary hypertension treatment for mom of 3 leads back to active lifestyle

November 2013 is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

Traci Patnoude blog

Traci Patnoude with her husband and 3 children. Diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at age 35, Traci’s PH treatment has allowed her to participate in the activities she enjoys: “It might take me longer, but I can still do it.”

The last thing I could have ever expected after having my third child was heart disease. But there I was, at 35, hearing a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, which meant I had high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries in my lungs. Also known as PH, the condition can have no known cause, can be genetic or can be caused by drugs or toxins. It can also occur because of an underlying disease or health issue.

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