The first guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of children with pulmonary hypertension have been issued by the American Heart Association and the American Thoracic Society and published online ahead of print November 3 in Circulation. 

Children with pulmonary hypertension typically have blockages in the pulmonary arteries, which make it difficult for the heart’s right ventricle to pump blood through the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fainting, and cyanosis. 

The new guidelines include information on how to determine the type of pulmonary hypertension, approved and recommended treatments, proven and emerging medical and surgical therapies, optimal comprehensive care including advice on supportive and social aspects of care, and pulmonary hypertension centers. They also include practical advice on issues such as whether these children should receive blood thinners, how to determine if a child with pulmonary hypertension can safely exercise or travel on a plane, and how high altitude can affect pulmonary hypertension. 

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“These children suffer with health issues throughout their lives or die prematurely—particularly if they’re not properly diagnosed and managed. But with the proper diagnosis and treatment at a specialized center for pulmonary hypertension, the prognosis for many of these children is excellent,” said Steven H. Abman, MD, lead author and co-chair of the guidelines committee.