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Fact Sheets and At–a–Glance Reports

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.

[A text version of this graphic is also available.]

Facts on Pulmonary Hypertension

  • Pulmonary hypertension is a rare lung disorder in which the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises far above normal levels, usually with no apparent reason.
  • Symptoms include chronic fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnea), chest pain (angina), palpitations, fainting, swollen ankles and legs (edema), and fluid in the abdomen (ascites). These are also symptoms for other diseases such as congestive heart failure; therefore, physicians should rule out other diseases before making a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension.
  • Pulmonary hypertension may develop after pregnancy, valvular heart diseases, chronic thromboembolic disease, lung diseases, liver diseases, sleep–disordered breathing and hypoxemia, lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
  • In 2002, there were 15,668 deaths and 260,000 hospital visits among persons with pulmonary hypertension.
  • Among 807,000 patients hospitalized with pulmonary hypertension as one of the diagnoses between 2000 and 2002, 61% were women and 34% were younger than age 65.
  • It is unclear whether pulmonary hypertension is truly rare or whether pulmonary hypertension is undetected and under–reported. At present there are no statistical data to determine how many people currently have pulmonary hypertension in the United States or how many new cases are diagnosed each year.
  • Increases in hospitalizations for persons with pulmonary hypertension and increases in death rates for women, African–Americans, and the elderly with pulmonary hypertension during the past two decades may reflect an increase in physician awareness of the disease rather than a growing epidemic of pulmonary hypertension.
  • During the past decade, advances have occurred in knowledge about the evaluation and diagnosis of several different types of pulmonary hypertension and in the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

CDC's Public Health Efforts 

CDC currently funds health departments in 32 states and the District of Columbia to develop effective strategies to reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases and related risk factors with an overarching emphasis on heart healthy policies and physical and social environmental changes. Through these state programs, CDC aims to reduce disparities in treatment, risk factors, and disease; delay the onset of disease; postpone death from cardiovascular disease; and reduce disabling conditions. For more information on CDC's State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program, please visit our Web site at

For More Information

More information on pulmonary hypertension can be obtained from the following CDC partners:


  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Primary pulmonary hypertension. Bethesda, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services; November 1996. NIH Publication No. 96–3291.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pulmonary Hypertension Surveillance—United States, 1980–2002. In: Surveillance Summaries, 2005. MMWR 2005;54(No. SS–5).
  3. McLaughlin VV, Presberg KW, Doyle RL, et al. Prognosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension: ACCP evidence–based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2004;126(Suppl 1):78S–92S.
  4. Hoepner MM, Galie N, Simonneau G, Rubin LJ. New treatments for pulmonary arterial hypertension. Am J Respr Crit Care Med 2002;165:1209–1216.
  5. Simonneau G, Galie N, Rubin LJ, et al. Clinical classification of pulmonary hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol 2004;43(Suppl):5S–12S.
  6. Klepetko W, Mayer E, Sandoval J, et al. Interventional and surgical modalities of treatment with pulmonary arterial hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol 2004;43(Suppl S):73S–80S.
  7. Barst RJ, McGoon M, Torbicki A, et al. Diagnosis and differential assessment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol 2004;43(Suppl S):40S–47S.
  8. Farber HW, Loscalzo J. Mechanisms of disease: pulmonary arterial hypertension. N Engl J Med 2004;351:1655–1665.

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*Links to non–Federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at this link.

Date last reviewed: 05/12/2006
Content source: Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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