St. Paul, Minn. (May 24, 2017) – Wayne Hansen knew something was wrong the day his 50-yard walk from the parking lot to his cubicle at work left him completely out of breath. For a 57-year-old man on heart medication, he had been managing well — even working two jobs. Struggling to breathe was something new.
Baffled after a couple of weeks when his condition grew worse, Hansen visited his cardiologist. The doctor immediately ordered an echocardiogram. The next morning, he called Hansen with devastating news. He said Hansen had pulmonary hypertension (PH), a progressive life-threatening, debilitating lung disease that would, at best, leave him disabled for the rest of his life.
PH is characterized by increased pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs, which can lead to death from right-heart failure. Common PH symptoms are non-specific and can include shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Consequently, this disease is complex and often misdiagnosed, leading to delays in proper treatment and costing patients valuable time. PH can present alone or with other illnesses, including congestive heart disease, connective tissue disorders, COPD and many other diseases. It affects infants, children and adults of all races and ethnic backgrounds. With early, accurate diagnosis, treatments can extend and improve the quality of life for many living with the disease.
Within weeks of his diagnosis, complications of his PH coupled with his heart condition landed Hansen in the hospital where he spent more than eight weeks. Doctors performed open heart surgery as part of the treatment for the cardiovascular disease that led to his PH diagnosis. As Hansen healed from the procedure, his pulmonologist managed his PH with a combination of treatments that eventually helped lower his lung pressures.
A three-year PH survivor, Hansen will join the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) at the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront in St. Paul, Minn., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 24, for PHA on the Road, a free education program for people diagnosed with PH and those who might be at risk for developing the disease. The event, which includes a free breakfast and lunch, provides information on the diagnosis and treatment of PH for patients and their family members in a face-to-face setting. The forum’s programs include interactive presentations, educational sessions and networking opportunities for patients, caregivers and PH medical experts in the region.
Hansen discovered PHA soon after his diagnosis. He joined his local PHA support group and uses every opportunity to encourage others to connect with the association’s patient and caregiver resources. Hansen has learned the power of educating himself about the disease and doing what he can to help others with PH. In a letter that PHA will share on its social media accounts, Hansen encourages everyone in the Twin Cities area diagnosed with PH or associated illnesses to attend the PHA on the Road forum.
“I have an angel on each shoulder,” he said. “I’m a survivor and know that I’m here for a reason. I’m here to help people.”
Learn more and register for PHA on the Road today.
About the Pulmonary Hypertension Association
Headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) is the country’s leading pulmonary hypertension organization. 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, health care professionals and researchers. For more information and to learn how you can support PH patients, visit www.PHAssociation.org and connect with PHA on Twitter and Instagram @PHAssociation and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PulmonaryHypertensionAssociation.
Wayne and his wife, Vicki