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Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms

Most patients present with fatigue, decreased exercise tolerance, shortness of breath, chest tightness, dizziness, bloating, or swelling in the legs.  Sometimes patients have symptoms for years before a cause is identified.  

Diagnosis

Common Work up – Patients may have one or more of the following tests: 

  • Physical exam
  • 6 Minute Walk Test to evaluate exercise capacity
  • Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to evaluate heart function.
  • CT scan of the chest to look for scarring or emphysema.
  • Pulmonary function testing to look for COPD or low lung volumes. 
  • Blood Tests
  • Sleep study to evaluate for sleep apnea.
  • V/Q scan to look for chronic blood clots.
  • Right heart catheterization is performed to measure the pressures in the heart and lung blood vessels and sometimes pulmonary angiography to visualize the lung blood vessels themselves.  

The Pulmonary Hypertension Association provides wonderful resources about the diagnostic evaluation for pulmonary hypertension written in a patient-friendly format.