Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pulmonary Hypertension: Update on My Father

Once again, it's Pulmonary Hypertension Blogging Awareness Day. If you read my post last year, you know that my father has this disorder.

Time for an update: Dad is using the oxygen tank more frequently. After a stretch of 'holding steady', he had a serious drop in heart/lung function this fall. He's been having trouble getting out of his chair, being lightheaded when he stands, and having to rest/nap after even mild exertion.

As far as I can tell, he has gone from Class 2 to Class 3 pulmonary hypertension. This is not a good thing. The doctor has been trying Revatio with him. Never heard of it? Yes, you have... its other name is Viagra. Unfortunately, it has no fun 'side effects' for him.

Dad says that it's not working very well in other ways, either. He isn't as bad off as he was, but he's still not functioning well. The doc didn't think the Revatio would perform very well, but he wanted to see if it made a difference before moving on to stronger drugs - the sort with the FDA black box warning.

Now, my father is hoping to get onto Tracleer. It's strongly counterindicated for pregnant women (not an issue for a man in his seventies) and people with liver problems. In some cases, it can actually damage your liver. It is only doled out in 30-day allotments at a time by certified doctors and authorized pharmacies, and patients must have monthly liver function tests. Yes, that dangerous.

Oh, and expensive! It could easily cost him over $600 a month with health insurance. Or so he says. He also said 'a little under 14K a year', so I think he's lowballing for my sake. Meanwhile, he's taking 2 Revatio a day instead of 3 so he won't have to buy more before he sees the doctor about the Tracleer.

Since this is a degenerative condition with no cure, eventually Tracleer will not be effective either. The next step will be continuous subcutaneous or intravenous medication with a pump.

It's a sad decline to watch. On the other hand, I have been blessed to have him for this long. It's been five years since his diagnosis. By this time, half the people diagnosed with PH are already dead.

To learn more about Pulmonary Hypertension, click here.

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