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 may start to occur. Some people also may notice swelling in their ankles and legs. A change in the symptoms you experience may indicate that your PAH is progressing.

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 manage 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.

Depression. This may be caused by fatigue, your medications, or the stress of PAH.

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.

Rapid, hard, or irregular heartbeat (palpitations). You may feel like your heart is pounding, fluttering, or skipping a beat.

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.

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. You may feel more tired than usual.

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.


Use a journal to track changes in your activity level and symptoms, and discuss them with your doctor. If you notice signs your condition may be worsening, talk to your doctor about possible adjustments to your treatment plan.