Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep & Allergy

Advanced Lung Disease Clinic

Pulmonary Hypertension Program
Information for Patients

What is PH?

Pulmonary hypertension is a disorder of the blood vessels of the lungs.
In this condition, the pressure in the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that leads from the heart to the lungs) rises to above-normal levels. The right side of the heart is put under severe strain to pump blood through the lungs because of narrowing and scarring of the blood vessels in the lungs. The heart becomes enlarged, and has to work harder to overcome the resistance. PH can become life-threatening.
There are many causes for PH. Patients can inherit it genetically or it can be a result of other illnesses like lupus, scleroderma, chronic liver or heart disease, hepatitis, emphysema or use of diet drugs like Fen Phen.

Symptoms:

PH is not easily detected in a routine physical and may progress to a late stage if not accurately diagnosed. Symptoms of PH may mimic other heart or lung conditions. Daily activities may be limited due to:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath with little exertion
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Swollen ankles, legs or abdomen

Prompt diagnosis, supervised treatment, and close follow up will give the best outcomes for patients who are diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) Pulmonary Hypertension Program provides comprehensive diagnostic evaluations followed by the necessary treatment for patients with pulmonary hypertension. UNMC’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program has been developed to help patients enjoy a better quality of life and improve prognosis while decreasing the length of stay in a hospital or even preventing hospitalization.

Diagnosis:

Diagnostic testing includes:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Pulmonary Function Testing
  • Advanced imaging studies (ventilation perfusion scanning, CT’s)
  • Exercise testing
  • Hemodynamic monitoring with pulmonary vascular testing

About our Team Members:

Treating Pulmonary Hypertension requires a well-coordinated, experienced and multi-disciplinary team. Patients are evaluated on a individual basis. Using advanced techniques and the newest treatments available, members of the team create a treatment plan designed specifically for that individual. Our team includes:

  • Pulmonologists
  • Cardiologist
  • Physician Assistants and Nurse Coordinator-who develop individual care plans and work closely with patients and family members. They assist with understanding medications and teach patients how to monitor their symptoms and when to call the physician.
  • Pharmacists-who review medications and watch closely for side effects and drug interactions.
  • Social Workers-who can help patients with concerns including social and financial Issues.
  • Research Coordinator-who can service and enroll patients into clinical studies currently active at UNMC.

Treatment:

Medications and treatments are adjusted according to patient’s tolerance and health status.
Treatments may include:

  • Patient Education
  • Calcium channel blockade
  • Enrollment in FDA-sponsored medication clinical trials
  • PDE-5 inhibitors
  • Endothelin receptor-antagonist therapy
  • Continuous IV Prostacyclin
  • Inhaled Prostacyclin
  • Continuous subcutaneous Prostacyclin

Clinic Information:

The Advance Lung Disease Clinic began seeing patients in 1994 under the direction of Austin B. Thompson, M.D.  The program cares for adult patients with Pulmonary Hypertension and other advanced lung diseases who are 18 years of age and older.  For more information about the Advanced Lung Disease Clinic or to schedule an appointment, please call (402) 559-7555.  

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