Early Detection of PH Saves Lives
Pulmonary hypertension is a serious and debilitating disease that comes in many forms and is often misunderstood.
Generally defined as high blood pressure in the lungs, the five classifications of PH are dependent on how the disease develops:
Group 1 pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) — associated with the narrowing of the small blood vessels in the lungs;
Group 2 pulmonary hypertension due to left heart disease — long-term problems with the left side of the heart that may lead to changes in the pulmonary arteries;
Group 3 pulmonary hypertension due to lung disease and/or chronic hypoxia — resulting from lung diseases or shortage of oxygen in the body;
Group 4 pulmonary hypertension due to blood clots in the lungs — caused by blood clots obstructing the pulmonary arteries; and
Group 5 pulmonary hypertension due to other disorders — includes blood disorders, metabolic disorders, thyroid disease or kidney disease.
“Each form of PH is different, that’s why it is essential that newly diagnosed patients find a PH specialist that can develop a treatment plan that is right for their specific type of PH,” says Dr. Michael Lammi, a board-certified physician at LSU Healthcare Network and associate professor of medicine in the Pulmonary/Critical Care and Allergy/Immunology Section of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. “Although proper treatment may improve and extend life, early intervention remains the key to maximizing treatment efficacy and positive patient outcomes. Without treatment, the mean survival rate of patients with PH is approximately 2.8 years.”
The symptoms of PH are commonly associated with other conditions (sleep apnea, COPD) and can also lead to its misdiagnosis. Nearly 75 percent of patients already have advanced PH (Class III or IV) by the time they are diagnosed. “When accurate PH diagnosis is followed by appropriate treatment early in the disease progression, patients report fewer limitations and greater quality of life,” Dr. Lammi says. “For many, this means maintaining the ability to work and continuing to enjoy family and social activities as well as hobbies.”
Dr. Lammi chose to study and research the complexities of pulmonary hypertension after first becoming fascinated with medicine as a child reading Sherlock Holmes. “I entered medical school with an interest in pathology and thought I wanted to be a coroner,” he says. “During my internal medicine residency, I was drawn to the complexities and physiology of lung disease and respiratory failure. During my clinical rotation, as I had more interaction with patients, I decided I wanted to help patients live better and live longer.”
After earning his medical degree at Temple University in Philadelphia, Dr. Lammi completed his internal medicine residency, chief residency and pulmonary/critical care fellowship at Temple University Hospital. He met his wife, Monik, a gastroenterologist doctor at Ochsner Medical Center, while she was completing her residency at Temple University.
Dividing his time between treating PH patients and research, Dr. Lammi is the co-director of the Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center at UMC and serves on the executive committee of the Pulmonary Circulation Assembly of the American Thoracic Society as well as the research committee of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. His patient-centered research focuses on PH in patients with systemic sclerosis, biomarkers of PH development and progression and the pulmonary vasculature in COPD.
Matthew Lammi, M.D., MSCR, Associate Professor of Medicine, LSUHSC
MEDICAL SCHOOL: Temple University Hospital
RESIDENCY: Temple University Hospital, Internal Medicine
FELLOWSHIPS: Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine
BOARD CERTIFICATIONS: Critical Care Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease
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