PAH Initiative FAQs

  • What is pulmonary arterial hypertension?

    Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is high blood pressure that results from the blood vessels in your lungs becoming narrow.

    Blood delivers oxygen throughout the body. To get that oxygen, the heart must first pump the blood through the lungs. Then, the oxygen-rich blood delivers that oxygen to cells in the body.

    When the blood vessels in the lungs become narrow due to PAH, the heart works harder to push the blood through the lungs for oxygen. This extra strain weakens the heart over time.

    You can read more about the basics of PAH or watch a video about it.

  • What causes PAH?

    Several factors can cause or contribute to PAH. Although it can be passed down from a family member, it can also develop in a person for no known reason.

    You can learn more about the causes of PAH.

  • Is PAH hereditary?

    Although the cause of PAH is unknown, the disease has been known to be passed down from one family member to another.

    You can learn more about the causes of PAH.

  • What is idiopathic PAH?

    The term idiopathic isn’t specific to PAH. The word is used to describe any disease that develops for an unknown reason.

    Idiopathic PAH refers to cases when the disease develops in patients without prior family history.

  • Is PAH fatal?

    Without a lung transplant, yes, it can be. But with early diagnosis and treatment, people with PAH may be able to significantly extend the time they can manage the disease. How quickly PAH progresses will vary based on each individual and how their condition is treated.

    That’s why you should tell your healthcare provider if you feel any symptoms of PAH, no matter how minor, or if your symptoms change over time. You might be able to take steps to improve your symptoms and possibly improve your risk status.

  • What is the life expectancy for someone with PAH?

    Every case of PAH is different, and many variables can affect life expectancy. You should talk to your healthcare provider about life expectancy. Regular risk assessments will help your healthcare provider adjust your treatment plan. These adjustments could help improve your risk status and possibly extend your life expectancy.

  • How is PAH diagnosed?

    If your healthcare provider suspects you have PAH, they will perform 1 or more tests to either confirm or rule out a diagnosis. To confirm a diagnosis of PAH, you must have a right heart catheterization test.

  • How is PAH treated?

    There are 3 pathways to treat PAH, and each pathway works to help balance natural substances that promote healthy blood vessels. Learn more about these natural substances and the treatment pathways on our Treating PAH page.

  • Is there a cure for PAH?

    Unfortunately, there currently is no known cure for PAH.

    However, PAH treatment studies are continually being conducted, and PAH research is an ongoing endeavor for many dedicated PAH specialists. The PAH community is learning more about the disease and how to better manage and treat it all the time.

  • What are the symptoms of PAH?

    PAH symptoms include:

    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Dizziness
    • Lightheadedness, fainting
    • Swollen abdomen
    • Swollen ankles
    • Irregular heartbeat
    Learn more about PAH symptoms here.