Long Island Can Breathe Easier Thanks to Winthrop's Pulmonary Hypertension Center


Vol. 13, No. 3
Fall 2003

  • Revolutionary New Device Helps Patients Living with Chronic Stomach Disorder

  • Long Island Can Breathe Easier Thanks to Winthrop's Pulmonary Hypertension Center

  • New Catheterless pH Monitoring System elps Diagnos Reflux Disease More Accurately, Less Invasively

  • Urinary Incontinence - You Don't Have to Live with it Anymore

  • Fay J. Lindner Foundation Awards Grant for Renovation, Expansion of Emergency Department

  • Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center at Winthrop Looks Towards Future of Research, Treatment Options

  • Winthrop's Institute for Neurosciences offers Comprehensive Care for Stroke Patients

  • Don't Wait - Vaccinate! Flu Season is Quickly Approaching

  • Healing Comes in the Form of Giving

  • $10,000 Donation from Jay's World Childhood Cancer Foundation Helps Fund High-Tech Microscope at Cancer Center for Kids

  • TWIGS to Honor its Founders at Golden Goose Gala Roaring 20s Party

  • A Celebration of Life... Patient gives back to those who helped him in his time of need

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  • When Patricia Johnston was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2001, she already knew what the road ahead would look like. A nurse for more than 30 years, Ms. Johnston was well aware of the severity of the disease and the challenges she'd face as it progressed. In need of a world-class medical facility that could offer her the most comprehensive care, she turned to Winthrop-University Hospital's Pulmonary Hypertension Center, one of only a few specialty centers on Long Island that caters to the special needs of these patients.


    Patricia Johnston discusses her treatment and progress with Adam Hurewitz, MD, (left) Chief of Pulmonology at Winthrop and Mary Bartlett, (right) Nurse Practitioner and Coordinator of the Pulmonary Hypertension Center, during a recent visit.
    Pulmonary hypertension is a rare lung disorder where the arteries in the lungs have become narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow through the vessels and causing the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel carrying oxygen-poor blood from the heart's right ventricle to the lungs) to rise above normal levels. Primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) has no known cause or cure. Secondary pulmonary hypertension (SPH) is often caused by other lung disorders including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The diet drug Fen-Phen has also been linked to the disease.

    Winthrop's Center was established by Adam Hurewitz, MD, Chief of Pulmonology at Winthrop to treat and better understand the disease and provide extensive care close to home. Because the disease strains and weakens the heart over time, physicians in the Pulmonary Hypertension Center take a multidisciplinary approach to patient care, working closely with experts in Winthrop's renown Institute for Heart Care to coordinate a patient's treatment regimen.

    Terence Trow, MD, the Center's Medical Director, explained, "Having a center that is totally dedicated to pulmonary hypertension helps us detect the disease early and provide therapy that is specifically tailored to each individual patient. Pulmonary hypertension is a time intensive disease to treat. Now patients have a place they can turn to for specialized care."

    New Research Yields New Treatment Options


    Dr. Hurewitz assesses Ms. Johnston's lung function.
    Up until about 10 years ago, a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension was fatal. New breakthroughs in research, however, are giving patients a new lease on life, allowing them to live less restrictive lifestyles as symptoms such as shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and chest pain are alleviated. Patients of the Pulmonary Hypertension Center also have access to the very latest in medications, research and new therapies, helping them lead longer, healthier lives.

    New oral medications have been effective in improving breathing in many patients in the earlier stages of the disease. In clinical trials, drugs such as Viagra have also demonstrated an ability to help ease some of the symptoms of the disease because of its ability to relax blood vessels in the lungs, making breathing easier. In advanced stages of the disease, new pump infused medications help patients lead more active lives while the drug is introduced into the body in balanced proportion throughout a 24-hour period. Researchers in the Pulmonary Hypertension Center also continue to study the disease and investigate new treatment options for the future.

    The Personal Touch Makes all the Difference

    Healthcare professionals in the Center believe that a personal approach to caring for patients is the best way to treat pulmonary hypertension and its life-altering symptoms. Physicians and nurses alike make it a practice to check in with patients, calling them at home to make sure they are feeling good on their medications and to answer any questions that may arise after a visit. Patients work closely with physicians to develop specific strategies for care.

    Ms. Johnston stated that it is this personal touch, along with the high level of specialized treatment she has received at the Center, that has made living with this disease more tolerable.

    "The staff at the Pulmonary Hypertension Center has helped me to adjust and to accept the specific health problems caused by my disease. Their competence, kindness and caring has made a difference in my outlook and my ability to handle this illness."

    With her upbeat attitude and some help from Winthrop's Pulmonary Hypertension Center, Ms. Johnston looks forward to the future. She added, "I won't be defeated by this disease. I have grandchildren. I still have things I want to do."

    For more information on Pulmonary Hypertension, call the Institute for Lung Care at Winthrop-University Hospital at 1-866-WINTHROP.



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