Pulmonary arterial hypertension occurs when arteries that supply the lungs become stiff and thick. The most common symptom is mild shortness of breath, although women tend to feel fatigued as well. Other symptoms can include dizziness, fainting, chest pain, and swollen legs and ankles. Because the symptoms are common, individuals are often diagnosed first with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is not until they fail to improve with treatment that pulmonary artery hypertension is considered. New medications plus fluid management, exercise, a low-salt diet, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, and adequate sleep are extending life for people with this chronic condition.
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