Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH) occurs when old, organized blood clots block the pulmonary arteries. Between 0.5 and 5 percent of people who experience an acute pulmonary embolism develop chronic blood clots in the lung, but the reasons for this are not known. About half of those diagnosed with CTEPH do not have a known history of pulmonary embolisms or deep vein thrombosis. It can be months to years after an acute pulmonary embolism before symptoms of CTEPH develop, even if the clot has been treated with blood thinners or anticoagulants.
The most common complaints from patients with CTEPH are shortness of breath with activity or a noticeable decline in exercise capacity. Less common symptoms include unusual chest discomfort (especially when taking a deep breath), lightheadedness with exertion, palpitations (irregular or strong heartbeat) and, rarely, coughing up blood.
It is important to screen for CTEPH in all patients with PH because it is the only form of PH that can potentially be cured by surgically removing the clots.
Download the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA)’s free patient brochure to learn more about PH risks and treatment options.