FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The hidden disease of pulmonary hypertension is coming out of the shadows as more people in the Valley become aware of the symptoms.
Perry Mamigonian enjoys every minute he spends in his backyard garden at his Fresno home. He doesn't let the chronic condition of pulmonary hypertension keep him from living life to the fullest -- because in 2009, he almost lost that life.
"All of a sudden my head started spinning and I blacked out behind the wheel of the car and my car crashed," said Mamigonian.
Perry says that potentially fatal crash saved his life, because doctors searched for the reason why he blacked out. They finally found he had pulmonary hypertension, chronic high blood pressure in the lungs that he'd been suffering with -- for years, but didn't know it.
"My doctor said, 'I think you have asthma, let's treat you for that,' and that helped a little bit, but eventually I started feeling worse again, so I had that long road of mis-diagnosis."
UCSF Fresno specialist, Dr. Vijay Balasubramanian leads the Fresno Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) program which started as a small group but in a few years, has exploded in growth in the Valley -- because more people are getting diagnosed with the once, mysterious disease. Symptoms of PH include dizzyness, shortness of breath, chest pain, swollen ankles and fatigue. Since those symptoms mimic a host of other more common conditions, PH is often mis-diagnosed.
"That's part of the mission. To improve awareness in the community among physicians, care providers, patients and the general public about the existence of this condition," said Dr. Vijay Balasubramanian, Pulmonary Hypertension Medical Director.
On Saturday, that mission will continue in Clovis when Perry and hundreds of other members of the Fresno PH support group, their families and caregivers, will take part in the fourth annual, Fun Walk to raise funding and promote education about pulmonary hypertension.
Meantime, Perry and other PH patients, manage their disease with an infusion pump that keeps a consistant flow of medication to improve blood flow between the heart and lungs.
But his heart now belongs to his fiancee, Susie. They met through their work with PH support groups, living as an example that a disease doesn't define them. "We can break those boundaries, and enjoy life to the fullest," said Mamigonian
The 4th annual Fresno Pulmonary Hypertension Fun Walk is this Saturday at Railroad Park in Clovis.
The Fresno PH Program:
Contact (559) 256-5130
For Information on Fresno Pulmonary Hypertension Fun Walk, call (559) 459-7486 null
Fresno Pulmonary Hypertension Fun Walk in Clovis
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