What stage of pulmonary hypertension involves weakness in the limbs?

Loriprince asked...

My 75 year-old mom has pulmonary hypertension. She already takes breathing treatments and is on a CPAP and oxygen at night. She is complaining of severe weakness, especially her legs. What stage is she in?? How long is life expectancy with this?? I would appreciate all input.

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Pulmonary Hypertension is a disease in which there is elevated blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs. It can be caused by several diseases, including heart problems (like heart failure), blood clots in the lungs, and lung problems (COPD, sleep apnea). It sounds like your mother may have this condition from sleep apnea, as she is using a CPAP and oxygen at night.

The most common symptoms of PH include shortness of breath and fatigue. A few other people can get dizzy, faint, have bluish lips, get swelling in their legs, and have chest pain. The stages of pulmonary hypertension are based on symptoms alone. I've listed them below: Stage 1: No symptoms at all. Stage 2: Symptoms present with moderate activity, but not at rest. Stage 3: Symptoms present with minimal activity, no symptoms at rest Stage 4: Symptoms present all the time, even at rest.

Your mother is complaining of severe weakness in her legs. If this symptom is from pulmonary hypertension, you would have to find out if she is having these symptoms with activity or at rest to figure out what stage she is in. Since I cannot tell by your letter what stage she is in, I cannot give you a prognosis myself. But, I do know that with proper treatment, her condition can be stable for years. She really needs to use her CPAP religiously every night, and take her medications as ordered.

My other piece of advice is that she should see a pulmonologist for this condition, as they know all the latest treatments and can help with managing this disease. Good luck!