Thomasville, N.C. (October 19, 2016) – At age 53, Diane Ramirez, one of the longest-living survivors of pulmonary hypertension (PH), has passed the halfway mark in her 100-mile walk to raise funds and awareness to fight PH – the often misdiagnosed and deadly lung disease she’s lived with for 30 years.

The Thomasville, N.C., resident expects to complete her walk by Oct. 31, just before Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month begins on Nov. 1.

Awareness for people with PH is a matter of life or death,” Ramirez said. “I was diagnosed in 1987 and, like a lot of people, I was sick long before receiving a correct diagnosis. I was fortunate to take part in a number of successful drug trials, some of which resulted in some of the 14 treatments that, today, with early diagnosis, can extend and improve the quality of life for people with living with PH.”

PH is caused when arteries in the lungs become narrow, damaged or stiff, putting pressure on the right side of the heart, causing it to work extra hard to push blood through those arteries. Common symptoms of PH include shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain, and the disease is often misdiagnosed as other more common diseases such as asthma. This can lead to delays in proper diagnosis and treatment costing patients valuable time.

PH can exist alone or in association with other conditions, such as scleroderma, lupus and other connective tissue diseases, congenital heart disease, chronic liver disease, HIV and other illnesses. While PH is incurable, people diagnosed with one form — chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), caused by old blood clots in the lungs — may be candidates for a surgical procedure that can potentially reduce or even normalize their lung blood pressure. 

Ramirez serves on the Board of Trustees of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), which for 25 years has put donated funds to work to support people affected by PH through support programs, awareness, advocacy, medical education and research to find a cure.

This November, Ramirez will join PHA to invite people from all walks of life to publicly acknowledge random acts of kindness by taking the A Heart Cures Challenge. PHA is asking people to record a short video of themselves thanking loved ones for being there for them when it was needed the most or strangers for showing them kindness when it was least expected. The social media challenge, which directs the public to, runs through November, which in addition to being Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month is the month of giving thanks. By giving people a simple way to thank others for random acts of kindness, PHA is able to spread awareness about PH and possibly save lives in the process.

“I’m grateful that the combination therapy I’m on today makes it possible for me to exercise daily and for my doctors to give me the OK to complete this 100-mile walk. At the same time, as a North Carolina PHA advocacy leader and support group member, I know first-hand that simply breathing is a struggle for many of my fellow patients,” Ramirez said. “Funding and awareness raised now and through November will bring much-needed resources to PHA and support the next generation of research that will lead to a world without PH.”

Make a contribution today, and join Diane Ramirez and PHA as we put our hearts into finding a PH cure.

Learn more about the awareness and fundraising effort at

About the Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) is the country’s leading pulmonary hypertension organization. Commemorating its 25thanniversary in 2016, PHA’s mission is to extend and improve the lives of those affected by PH; its vision is a world without PH, empowered by hope. PHA achieves this by connecting and working together with the entire PH community of patients, families; healthcare professionals and researchers. For more information and to learn how you can support PH patients, visit and connect with PHA on Twitter @PHAssociation and on Facebook at





PH Bill