New York Methodist Hospital Debuts Pulmonary Hypertension Center

Nov 13, 2009

Brooklyn, NY

Three doctors in lab coats looking at a piece of paper

From left, Amber Monson, R.N., pulmonary hypertension nurse coordinator, Arthur Sung, M.D., director of interventional pulmonology, and Suhail Raoof, M.D., chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine.

New York Methodist Hospitals Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine recently established a Pulmonary Hypertension Center. New York Methodist (NYM) now offers the only center in Brooklyn with a comprehensive and integrated approach to the diagnosis and management of pulmonary hypertension (PH), which occurs when tiny arteries in the lungs become narrowed, blocked or destroyed, causing pressure to increase in these arteries. This is a disease that takes an entire team to manage, said Suhail Raoof, M.D., chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at New York Methodist. It involves the primary care physician, and specialists in cardiology, pulmonology, sickle cell disease and radiology.

Patients receiving treatment at the Hospitals Pulmonary Hypertension Center undergo a series of examinations, including blood tests, pulmonary physiological tests, and thoracic imaging, to help determine the best treatment plan for their specific needs. In addition, the Center offers a weekly outpatient clinic to closely monitor patients after the start of therapy and a pulmonary hypertension nurse coordinator, Amber Monson, R.N., whose role is to coordinate each patients care, a vital task, since so many different health care providers are involved.

Twenty years ago, patients with pulmonary hypertension often had a prognosis that was worse than the prognosis of those with cancer, said Arthur Sung, M.D., director of interventional pulmonology at NYM. But today, thanks to the discovery of new treatments, many patients can manage their symptoms and live a good quality of life for years.

Pulmonary hypertension displays subtle signs and symptoms during its early stages. These include: fatigue, chest pressure or pain, dizziness or fainting spells, swelling in the ankles, legs and eventually the abdomen and a racing pulse or heart palpitations. Because the symptoms of PH are shared with many other conditions, the disease can be difficult to diagnose. If PH is suspected, patients may undergo blood tests, pulmonary tests, chest imaging and a cardiac catheterization to definitively diagnose PH. Right heart catheterization, which directly measures the pressure in the pulmonary arteries, is considered the gold standard for diagnosing PH, said Terrence Sacchi, M.D. The Division of Cardiology is pleased to collaborate with the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine to offer patients this test.

For more information or an appointment at the Pulmonary Hypertension Center, please call 718-780-5835. For a referral to a pulmonologist at New York Methodist Hospital, call 718 499-CARE.