IV Therapy: Lifesaver For Some Pulmonary Hypertension Patients
Prior to December 2009, St. Clair Shores resident, Kathy Ladd, could barely walk five steps without experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue.
“I knew I was not having a heart attack, but something just didn’t feel right,” says Ladd.“ I was quickly out of breath and experiencing heaviness in my chest that was just not going away.”
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension is a challenging disease to diagnose, as the indicators are similar to many other medical conditions. After six months of observation, Ladd was referred to the Beaumont Pulmonary Hypertension Center, where Pulmonary and Critical Care specialist, Samuel Allen, D.O., tested and confirmed the diagnosis of PAH.
PAH is an incurable condition that causes the right side of the heart to enlarge and lose its ability to pump efficiently. The enlargement is a result of continuous high pressure in the pulmonary artery, the blood vessel that connects the heart to the lungs.
“Dr. Allen recommended I start Remodulin IV therapy immediately, but I was not certain I wanted to have a pump connected to me for the rest of my life,” she says. “Now, I’m very happy I decided to go on IV therapy.”
“Remodulin is used for the treatment of PAH. It’s infused continuously through an intravenous catheter, connected to a pump the patient must wear 24 hours a day, possibly for the remainder of their life,” says Dr. Allen. “The pump delivers the medication directly into the bloodstream resulting in the relaxation of the pulmonary artery, minimizing the pressure and stress to the heart. If left untreated, PAH can lead to heart failure and death.”
Dr. Allen says Ladd was a good candidate for IV therapy because she had the appropriate diagnostic testing including an echocardiogram and right heart catheterization that confirmed her diagnosis. Her symptoms of shortness of breath, swelling in her legs and the inability to walk a reasonably short distance also confirmed that therapy needed to begin quickly.
Before patients consider this treatment, they should see a physician who is skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of PAH. According to Dr. Allen, in addition to IV therapy, other oral or inhaled treatments are available. It is important patients understand IV therapy requires a lifelong commitment, and having a strong support network is invaluable and considered a necessity.
Ladd, who has support from her twin sister, is accompanied to all of her appointments. Both have a family history of pulmonary problems.
“I feel much better and have a stronger desire to do more, including hanging drapes and walking,” says Ladd, who just finished walking three laps in the halls of the Pulmonary Hypertension Center at Beaumont Medical Center, Sterling Heights. “I want to live,” she says.
As an avid volunteer and former caseworker with the Salvation Army, Ladd says she is looking forward to doing more activities once the weather breaks.
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