World PH Day: Action Follows Awareness

By Child Heart Foundation - May 05, 2021


World Pulmonary Hypertension Day, annually celebrated on the fifth of May, highlights the global impact of Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) - a lethal hemodynamic and pathophysiological disease, that affects a large number of children and adults worldwide. As a student intern at Child Heart Foundation, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the nuances of this chronic respiratory disease, by analysing medical research papers, case studies of patients, along with its poignant statistics (reduced life expectancy and appalling death rate).


Pulmonary Hypertension is described as the abnormal increase in pressure of the arteries present in the lungs. The most common kind of PH involves the pruning of the Pulmonary Artery, thus disrupting the physiological process of blood circulation. While the muscular walls of the Right Ventricle face immense pressure and weaken, the Left Auricle and Ventricle of the heart receive paucity of blood, resulting in a myriad of complications. Based on aetiology, the World Health Organisation has classified PH into five distinctive groups - which has further stimulated case-based research, as well as aided in customized patient care. However, the primary cause of such a life-threatening disease remains unknown, and is daunting from a psychosocial perspective.


In my perspective, one of the biggest challenges in PH management is the lack of awareness - given the fact that symptoms are generic, and are not specific to PH. This ultimately leads to delay in diagnosis. In most developing countries, the disease is either underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. One should always be aware of alarming symptoms, such as cyanosis (bluish tint on lips and skin), dyspnea (shortness of breath) and syncope (fainting spells) and seek immediate medical help. Furthermore, one should also be aware of risk factors that could instigate the disease, such as smoking, the usage of illegal drugs and obesity.


The abovesaid, treatment is not freely accessible in developing countries, and is prohibitively expensive (approximately five lakhs), which along with lack of awareness, makes PH a fatal disease. Further, not all major drug companies are interested in these developing markets, which further accentuates the challenge of free accessibility of medication. 


Action follows Awareness - Local fundraising, International Charity Programmes, and the involvement of authorities and governmental bodies seem plausible only when enough awareness has been created in communities. In order to achieve the aforementioned objective, it is indispensable to encourage the world in bringing more advocacy/research and setting up infrastructure for the treatment of PH. With the ongoing COVID 19 Pandemic, the significance of global health cannot be better exemplified.


This World PH Day, I urge you to take the first step - the onus of spreading awareness lies within you. Be a global citizen. Educate yourself, your family/friends, and caregivers, and seek timely medical aid on the onset of symptoms. This is the first stride towards a world of healthier and disease-free lungs.


Written by Richa Thyagarajan, Interning with Child Heart Foundation

 Richa Thyagarajan is a Grade 11 Biology student from Bangalore, who aspires to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the future. She enjoys making a difference in the lives of children, and has prior experience working in an NGO setting

  • Share:

You Might Also Like