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Pulmonary Hypertension Fact Sheet

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Annual number of hospitalizations among persons with pulmonary hypertension, United States, 1980–2002
Annual number of hospitalizations among persons with pulmonary hypertension, United States, 1980–2002
Source: CDC, National Hospital Discharge Survey.
*Increased hospitalization and death rates due to pulmonary hypertension may reflect greater physician awareness of the disease rather than a growing epidemic of pulmonary hypertension.1

[A text version of this graphic is available.]

Pulmonary Hypertension Facts

  • Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, which carry oxygen and blood from the heart to the lungs, is much higher than normal.
  • Pulmonary hypertension usually occurs along with another disease or condition, such as pregnancy, heart and blood vessel diseases, lung diseases, liver diseases, sleep apnea, connective tissue diseases such as lupus and scleroderma, thyroid diseases, HIV infection, or use of certain diet medicines or illicit drugs.
  • In 2002, pulmonary hypertension led to 15,668 deaths and 260,000 hospital visits in the United States.1
  • Pulmonary hypertension can affect men and women of all ages and racial/ethnic groups. However, the majority of people who have this condition are older women.
  • Between 2000 and 2002, 807,000 patients were hospitalized with pulmonary hypertension. Of those hospitalized, 61% were women and 66% were aged 65 or older.1
  • Prior to 1995, people with pulmonary hypertension lived on average less than 3 years after diagnosis. Now, new treatments have improved survival rates and quality of life for those living with this condition.2


Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include—

  • Frequent tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Fainting.
  • Swollen ankles and legs.
  • Fluid in the abdomen.

Other diseases such as congestive heart failure also have these symptoms, so they need to be ruled out before a pulmonary hypertension diagnosis is made.

CDC's Public Health Efforts

CDC’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program
Since 1998, CDC has funded state health departments’ efforts to reduce the number of people with heart disease or stroke. Health departments in 41 states and the District of Columbia currently receive funding. The program stresses policy and education to promote heart-healthy and stroke-free living and working conditions.

For More Information

For more information about pulmonary hypertension, visit the following Web sites—


  1. Hyduk A, Croft JB, Ayala C, Zheng K, Zheng ZJ, Mensah G. Pulmonary Hypertension Surveillance—United States, 1980–2002. MMWR 2005;54(SS05);1–28.
  2. Barst RJ. Pulmonary hypertension: Past, present and future. Annals of Thoracic Medicine 2008;3:1–4.

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