Symptoms

The symptoms of PAH can make it hard to do simple things such as walking up stairs or to the mailbox. As PAH progresses, it may become more difficult to carry out daily tasks without experiencing symptoms.

With less blood flowing into the lungs and less oxygen getting to the rest of the body, symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue start to occur. Some people also may notice swelling in their ankles and legs. There may be a direct correlation between your symptoms and the progressive nature of your PAH.

Because patients adjust to the impact of PAH on their lives, many patients with PAH may not realize that they are experiencing worsening symptoms. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how you may be able to improve them.

Use your mouse to roll over the figure below and find out more about PAH symptoms and their potential impact on your body.

Talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing any of these symptoms.

Dizziness. You may experience dizziness when standing, climbing stairs, or rising from a seated position.

Fainting. This happens when your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen because of reduced blood flow. It’s possible to faint but not lose consciousness. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience fainting spells.

Depression. This may be caused by fatigue, your medications, or the stress of PAH. Talk with your doctor about your emotional and medical concerns.

Dry cough. This cough, which may contain drops of blood, can be caused by an enlarged heart pressing on a nerve, some types of medications including those to treat PAH, or increased fluid retention.

Chest pain (angina). This affects about one-third of PAH patients. You may have chest pain while performing a physical activity. This could feel like pounding or pressure in your chest. Although a common symptom, chest pain can be serious. Call your doctor right away and thoroughly describe what you are experiencing.

Rapid, hard, or irregular heartbeat (palpitations). You may feel like your heart is pounding, fluttering, or skipping a beat. Make sure you talk to your doctor about when and how often you experience these symptoms.

Shortness of breath (dyspnea). You may experience shortness of breath when performing daily activities and during or after meals.

Swollen abdomen (ascites). This may be related to your condition becoming progressively worse, so tell your doctor if you notice any changes.

Raynaud's (RAY-nose) phenomenon. This condition results in chilly, blue fingers. It is generally associated with connective tissue disease, but some patients with idiopathic PAH may experience this condition.

Fatigue. If you feel more tired than usual, your doctor may be able to help by adjusting your treatment plan.

Swollen ankles or legs (edema). This is a very common symptom of PAH. When you have edema, pressing into the flesh of your lower leg may briefly leave a dent. This may be a sign that your condition is getting worse, so talk to your doctor.

Quick Tip
Always track changes in your symptoms, and discuss them with your doctor. If you notice signs your condition may be worsening, talk to your doctor about possible additions to your current treatment. Contact the Living PAH Call Center at 1-877-948-9137 to request a journal to use to track your symptoms.