Pulmonary Hypertension Specialist Helps Extend Life

As seen on THV11

PH is the abbreviation for pulmonary hypertension. It's a form of heart disease that can affect all age groups and all ethnicities. But how serious is it?

A woman was diagnosed five and a half years ago with pulmonary hypertension. She's a miracle because the life expectancy after diagnosis is three years. The first two years were miserable, she said.


"And the third year i put my foot down and said 'I'm not gonna do this anymnore,'" she said. "I'm gonna find something. And I wanted to get a pulmonary hypertension specialist in Arkansas, so it's a dream come true."

Dr. Muhammad Waqas, Cardiologist at CHI St. Vincent Heart Clinic Arkansas and the Advanced Heart Failure Program, is her dream come true. "Actually it is more common than we thought," Dr. Waqas said. "Especially in places like Arkansas," Dr, Waqas said. "It has not been diagnosed or treated as much."

The shortness of breath, the fatigue are early symptoms of PH that are similar to other cardiac conditions. "And that is where the real work of the specialist comes into play," Dr. Waqas said. And Dr. Waqas is the specialist Arkansas so badly needed because when Thekla was diagnosed it was like a death sentence.

"My nurse that had been taking care of me came into my room and she was crying and at that moment I said, 'no, uh. This isn't gonna get me.'" And it hasn't, she is now a support group leader for other patients with PH. "No one should go through what I went through for five years, nobody," Thekla said.

It's why she is ever thankful that Dr. Waqas came along when he did. Again, symptoms for pht include shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the belly or legs. And like so many other conditions we have brought to light with this series if doctors catch PH early, treatment has a better chance at success. In other words, wear the gown.

Learn more about Dr. Muhammad Waqas, CHI St. Vincent Heart Clinic Arkansas and the Advanced Heart Failure Program.