Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) can develop in people who have experienced an acute pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in your lungs [PE]). About 1 in 25 people who had a PE (even those who were treated with at least 3 months of anticoagulants [blood thinners]), could develop CTEPH.* An acute PE can happen when a certain type of blood clot called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) travels from your leg or another part of your body to an artery in your lung, where it then gets stuck.
An acute PE can cause you to feel short of breath, have chest pain, and cough up blood. CTEPH can appear in someone within 6 months to 2 years of experiencing an acute PE. If you had PE in the past and are still experiencing shortness of breath, talk to your doctor.
People who've been treated for PE and still have symptoms after 3 months could have CTEPH.
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Unfortunately, there is no way for a doctor to tell that you definitely have CTEPH based on symptoms alone. This is because the most common symptoms of CTEPH are also common symptoms of other diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, or acute PE. If you have CTEPH, some things you may experience include:
An acute PE can increase the risk of developing CTEPH, especially in those who:
Have experienced more than one PE in their life
Have very high blood pressure in their lungs’ arteries (greater than 50 mm Hg) when their PE is discovered
Experience high blood pressure in the lungs for at least 6 months after their PE has been treated
You don’t have to experience an acute PE to get diagnosed with CTEPH.
Other risk factors for CTEPH include:
Having your spleen removed
Having infected surgical cardiac shunts, pacemakers, or defibrillator leads
Chronic inflammatory disorders
Thyroid replacement therapy
Having a high risk for blood clots
IT’S POSSIBLE TO DEVELOP CTEPH WITHOUT AN ACUTE PE OR ANY OF THE ABOVE CONDITIONS. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ANY SYMPTOMS YOU MAY BE EXPERIENCING.