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Life-Threatening Lung Disease Often Undiagnosed

Top Physician and Patient Discuss Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

Approximately 100,000 people in the United States and 200,000 patients worldwide suffer from pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), an incurable, life-threatening disease often misdiagnosed as other pulmonary conditions such as emphysema and asthma. PAH is a debilitating disease characterized changes in the blood vessels in the lungs leading to high pulmonary arterial pressures.

Patients with PAH suffer from shortness of breath as the heart struggles to pump against these high pressures. If left untreated, previous estimates suggest that the average patient would not be expected to live more than 2.8 years beyond the time of diagnosis, highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. Despite the availability of a variety of therapies, PAH is often not diagnosed in a timely manner, largely because classic PAH symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain can be attributed to more common medical conditions.


Aaron Waxman, MD, PhD, is a pulmonary critical care physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Waxman's specialties are in the areas of pulmonary medicine, critical care medicine, and internal medicine. In the effort to uncover the best course of treatment for his patients, Dr. Waxman has been involved in more than 22 clinical trials on the study of pulmonary arterial hypertension. As a recognized expert in the medical field, Dr. Waxman has been interviewed by numerous media outlets including ABC News, WFXT-TV/Boston, WHDH-TV/Boston, The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald.
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