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Classes of Pulmonary Hypertension

Updated on February 02, 2020

Article written by
Kelly Crumrin

The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a system of functional classes to describe the severity of pulmonary hypertension cases.

Knowing what type of pulmonary hypertension and functional class you have helps doctors decide which PH treatments will be most effective. One goal of treatment is to improve functional class. Progressing to a more severe functional class indicates that treatment is not working.

Functional classes of pulmonary hypertension

WHO organizes PH into four classes based on the severity of the symptoms, specifically the limitations PH imposes upon activities.

Class I

People with class I pulmonary hypertension do not experience any PH symptoms, either at rest or with exercise.

Class II

Pulmonary hypertension is considered class II when a person experiences no PH symptoms at rest but feels uncomfortable and short of breath while performing their usual daily activities.

Class III

Someone with class III pulmonary hypertension may or may not experience symptoms at rest. Normal household chores and other daily activities are limited by extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Symptoms may necessitate frequent breaks to rest.

Class IV

In class IV pulmonary hypertension, people experience symptoms at rest and during activity. Fainting is possible, especially when bending over. Edema (swelling) in the feet and ankles is common.

Read more about pulmonary hypertension symptoms and treatments.

Resources

External resources

Kelly leads the creation of content that educates and empowers people with chronic illnesses. Learn more about her here.

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