In the early stages of the disease, a patient’s physical examination results may appear almost normal. To establish a diagnosis, doctors may order a series of tests to measure the lung pressure and the function of the patient’s heart and lungs. These tests are done at the same time to accurately narrow down the heart condition(s) causing the symptoms.
Even though there is no known cure for or prevention against pulmonary hypertension, the condition is still treatable.According to the American Lung Association, approximately 50 per cent of people diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension die within five years. For those whose condition is left untreated, the average survival is shortened to about three years.Even with treatment, the high blood pressure in the lung arteries will continue to worsen and make daily activities more difficult. Adopting lifestyle modifications, however, may help patients with pulmonary hypertension get through their daily routine.Cardiologists refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) Functional Classification to identify the severity of pulmonary hypertension in patients and decide on suitable treatments.
Functional status is a person’s ability to perform daily activities and is ranked from Class I (no limitations) to Class IV (unable to perform any physical activity). Below are the brief descriptions of the four NYHA functional classes.