Healthcast: BPA: Better breathing for lung patients

Healthcast
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CTEPH is high blood pressure in the lungs caused by blood clots. Doctors say it is an under recognized, under diagnosed disease, causing fatigue, trouble breathing, lightheadedness, and passing out. At one time, the only effective treatment was surgery, but that’s not an option for 40 percent of patients.

Peggy Notman lived a busy life. But then her lungs started keeping her out of work and in the house.

“I was walking my dog and I was totally out of breath,” said Notman.

When her first grandchild was born, Notman knew something had to change.

“I want to see that baby grow up and be able to see every grandchild that comes along. And I want them to know me. Not just know me by pictures,” Notman shared.

After years of misdiagnosis, doctors discovered Notman had CTEPH.

“Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs due to chronic blocked lungs,” explained Gustavo Heresi, MD, Director of the Pulmonary Vascular and CTEPH Program at Cleveland Clinic.

But she was not a candidate for traditional treatments. That’s when doctors from the Cleveland Clinic told her about balloon pulmonary angioplasty or BPA.

“And we’re able to go in there with catheters, wires and balloons and with x-ray and ultrasound guidance we’re able to get in, find the webs that are associated with chronic pulmonary hypertension from chronic PEs and basically open them up to optimize the blood flow,” said Ihab Haddadin, MD, an Interventional Radiologist at Cleveland Clinic.

Notman needed repeat procedures. She noticed a difference after the second procedure. And by the sixth one …

“Now I can go out and do things that I need to do, that I want to do and feel confident that I’m not going to pass out,” Notman said.

The ideal candidate for BPA is a CTEPH patient who has clots that are too small and are beyond the reach of surgical instruments. Dr. Haddadin says the benefits increase with multiple procedures. Risks include getting excess fluids in the lungs and hemorrhage, but so far Dr. Haddadin says he is happy with the results.

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