Close Mobile Navigation


A woman in a black and white blouse gazing to her right with a calm expression and hand resting on her cheek

An elderly woman wearing a yellow shirt gazing out the window with a calm expression and her hands folded together

Living with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Navigating life with pulmonary hypertension (PAH) starts with understanding how it can affect various aspects of your health.

PAH occurs due to the narrowing of arteries in your lungs, restricting the flow of blood through the lungs and raising the blood pressure in the lungs. As a result, people with PAH can experience symptoms like tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, and an irregular heartbeat. Since PAH is a rare condition, you may need certain tests to help rule out other diseases before you get your official PAH diagnosis. In addition, having PAH can make people feel like their lives have been turned upside down.

To help you cope with various ways in which PAH affects you, consider whether to include additional health care professionals, such as a counselor or therapist, to your care team. Remember, support to help manage your PAH is available.

PAH by the numbers


The age range that PAH
is most commonly diagnosed.


The average number of years it takes to be diagnosed with PAH after symptoms start.


The approximate number of people who are diagnosed with PAH every year.

Man laying in a hospital bed wearing oxygen tubes while a doctor listens his heartbeat with a stethoscope

Confirming a diagnosis of PAH

Having a confirmed PAH diagnosis is important. However, getting an official diagnosis can sometimes take over two years because some symptoms are similar to other common lung diseases, like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The sooner the diagnosis is confirmed, the sooner you and your care team can put together a comprehensive, interdisciplinary plan to help manage it.

To diagnose PAH, doctors may use a combination of tests and procedures. These may include:
– Blood tests
– Lung function tests
– Echocardiograms (scans that create pictures of your heart)
– Right-heart catheterization (a test that measures the pressure inside your pulmonary arteries)

The right-heart catheterization is the only test that can confirm a PAH diagnosis and tell doctors how severe your PAH is.

Your care team will run routine tests to assess your PAH over time. These tests may involve heart imaging and exercise capacity assessments, such as the 6-minute walk distance test.


PAH is characterized by a range of symptoms, which can develop gradually and range in severity among people with the disease. Below are just some of the symptoms to watch out for.

Icon of a person who is tired


Icon of person with shortness of breath

Shortness of breath

Icon of person with chest pain

Chest pain

Icon of person who is dizzy


Icon of person who feels lightheaded

Lightheadedness, fainting

Icon of person with a swollen abdomen

Swollen abdomen

Icon of a swollen ankle

Swollen ankles

Icon of a heart with a cardiogram

Irregular heartbeat

A woman with short hair smiling, glancing to her right with arms wrapped around herself while sitting in the sunlight

With you at every step

As PAH progresses, your care team will likely require regular check-ins and testing. Use the resource linked below when discussing PAH with your healthcare provider.


PAH, a type of pulmonary hypertension (PH), is an uncommon but serious disease. There are doctors who focus on the diagnosis and management of PAH.