According to a story from Pulmonary Hypertension News, It has been three years since Miloš Lazić had is first encounter with pulmonary arterial hypertension. As an active member of Serbia’s national water polo team, the diagnosis completely changed his life. Miloš was training in the pool when he began to feel weak. The next thing he knew, he was coming to in a hospital bed. As it turned out, he had passed out and had been in a coma for four days. A quick test revealed that he had pulmonary arterial hypertension.
About Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Pulmonary arterial hypertension results in elevated blood pressure within the arteries of the lungs. The cause is not always known in some cases, but the condition may accompany other disease affecting the lungs and heart. The condition is heritable in some cases, being linked to several different genetic mutations. Use of some drugs or the introduction of toxins can also increase the risk. Symptoms include skin discoloration, poor appetite, shortness of breath, fainting, lightheadedness, abdominal pain, chest pain, palpitations, and fatigue. Treatment depends on the cause, and may include medications, surgery, and lung transplant. Lung transplants can technically cure the condition but it carries many complications. To learn more about pulmonary arterial hypertension, click here.
Miloš can no longer be a part of the water polo team, and his capacity for exercise is now very low. However, he is still a teacher and has found ways to help spread more awareness about pulmonary arterial hypertension. The primary advocacy group for patients in Serbia is called PHA Serbia, which was established in 2015. One of the founders of the organization, Danijela Pešić, estimates that there are around 350 Serbs with pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Limited Treatment Options
Without treatment, the prospects for survival are as poor in the Serbia as they are anywhere else: most patients are dead within three years if they can’t get diagnosed and treated. Only the most basic medicine for the disease is available through the country’s health system.
However, thanks to the efforts of PHA Serbia, several newer and more advanced medications will soon be available for use after negotiations with the government. However, while a lung transplant can cure pulmonary arterial hypertension, traditional culture in Serbia means that many people are not willing to get one or become donors, even though it could save lives. The country does not have a single transplant center.
The group’s work is cut out for them: help destigmatize transplants and raise awareness, and they have been busy. Belgrade’s Red Star basketball team, for example, partnered with PHA Serbia and was willing to advocate for the disease at games free of charge.
To learn more about PHA Serbia, visit their website here.