Eye on Health: Lung Disease - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Eye on Health: Lung Disease

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By Latrice Curry
Eye on Health Reporter

Everyday activities that most of us take for granted, are extremely difficult for some people.
Making it through a normal days work became almost impossible for Christine Wilkinson.

"As a nurse when I couldn't do my 12 hours on the floor between patients without having to sit down all the time," says Wilkinson.

After several frustrating visits to various doctors, Wilkinson was finally diagnosed with a rare lung disease,  Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension also known as P-A-H.

"In the nutshell it is high blood pressure in your lungs," says Dr. Mike Czarnecki.

Dr. Czarnecki is known as the "Lung Doctor" and he says this condition is often mis-diagnosed as other common ailments such as COPD.

"This is a rare disease and often goes mis-diagnosed because the symptoms are dizziness, shortness of breath, maybe you are unable to walk to your mailbox without getting short of breath," says Dr. Mike Czarnecki.
There are four categories of P-A-H, Classes 1 through 4 with four being the most serious, where patients show symptoms with any type of activity, sometimes even while resting.

While Dr. Czarnecki says most cases aren't caught in the early stages, Wilkinson's was.

"I am more aware of it, the heart pain, but I am feeling better because not also having the asthma slow me down as well," says Wilkinson.  

Correct diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

Dr. Mike Czarnecki says "Without treatment it is a lethal disease."

P-A-H is more common by a 3-1 margin in women, with most of them being diagnosed in their 30's and 40's. Treatment can range from oral medications to inhaled therapies and IV therapies. 

Dr. Czarnecki says if you ever took the diet drug phen phen, you might be at risk, because it was taken off the market because it caused Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.  

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