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The Best Places To Live With Pulmonary Hypertension

Medically reviewed by Angelica Balingit, M.D.
Written by Sarah Winfrey
Posted on October 20, 2023

When you’re living with pulmonary hypertension (PH) or pulmonary arterial hypertension, it’s important to figure out which factors bring on symptoms in your body. You begin to note when you feel out of breath, have chest pain, or just don’t feel well. When you can pinpoint what leads to symptoms, you can learn how to avoid triggers and feel better more regularly.

If climate and temperature factors make PH worse for you, you may want to consider moving. Of course, moving is a major decision and should not be taken lightly. If you’re thinking of relocating, here’s what you need to know — along with some of myPHteam members’ suggestions for the best places to live with PH.

The Environment’s Impact on Pulmonary Hypertension

PH can get worse in a variety of situations, some of which have to do with the temperature and climate around you. Different factors may bother you more than they do other people, and environmental triggers won’t be the same for everyone. Take notice of what triggers PH in your body so you can determine a suitable climate accordingly.

Hot Weather

It’s OK to enjoy warm weather, but getting too hot or staying in the sun too long can bring on or worsen PH symptoms, causing high blood pressure between your heart and your lungs. When you add PH to overheating, you may run a higher risk of experiencing both heat exhaustion and dehydration.

If you live somewhere that gets very warm, you could end up having to stay indoors for most of the time. Staying inside can limit your activity options and your ability to enjoy nature. Some people with PH choose to move away from warm climates so they can spend more time outdoors.

Cold Weather

Both extremely cold outdoor temperatures and the hot, dry air that heaters pump into buildings can trigger PH symptoms. Cold air can constrict your blood vessels, including your pulmonary arteries, and restrict blood flow between your heart and lungs. Cold weather also tends to bring an increase in cold and flu viruses, and getting sick can make your PH worse. For this reason, some people with PH spend most of the cold months indoors and may feel isolated.

Altitude

Living at a high altitude — over 4,000 feet — seems to trigger PH in some people, though more research is needed to confirm a true association. Higher altitude can bring on breathing difficulty as a side effect, so it makes sense that being in an area of high ground could bring on PH symptoms.

Humidity

Anecdotally, some myPHteam members report that high humidity makes their PH worse. One said, “I have a problem with high humidity and heat, but mostly humidity.”

However, the best-known correlation between humidity and PH has to do with low humidity, or dry air, which can make it harder to breathe. You may want to test humidity levels to find when you feel your best.

Great Places To Live With Pulmonary Hypertension

If you do want to move somewhere that may help you live more comfortably with PH, following are some areas that some myPHteam members have recommended.

Note that the right area for you will depend on the way your body responds to environmental factors. No location is right for every person, and you should always talk to your doctor before making a major change when living with PH.

Arizona

Parts of Arizona are known for being hot and dry, and the state has locations at a variety of altitudes. If chilly weather and high humidity set off your PH symptoms, you may want to consider a move to the Arizona desert. If warm weather triggers PH for you, you’ll want to find a different destination.

“Have you considered Arizona?” one team member asked another. “We moved here from Iowa. It gets really hot in the summer, but I just stay inside during the day. I go sit out on the patio after the sun goes down.”

Virginia

Virginia sits roughly at sea level and is known for having a mostly mild climate, although it can get humid in summer and cold in winter. If either heat or cold trigger PH for you, Virginia might help you find a happy medium where you may not be uncomfortable for entire seasons at a time.

One myPHteam member loves life in the state. “My oxygen levels in Virginia were wonderful,” they said. “However, when I came back to Colorado, it dropped to 83. I got sick right away. We are moving to Virginia — hopefully, in the next three months.”

North Carolina

North Carolina also offers a generally mild climate, especially on the coast. However, it can get quite a bit warmer inland. The state has both relatively low mountains and coastal areas, so you can choose which might be best for you.

“Move to the high mountains of North Carolina. The cooler weather and lower humidity help a lot!” one team member said.

Another added, “We retired to North Carolina about 10 years ago. I love it. The salt air helps me a bit, but I just love the ocean.”

Hawaii

The island state is usually warm without being hot, although it can get humid. Living in Hawaii can be expensive but might be worth considering if you want a mild climate and if humidity doesn’t worsen your PH.

One myPHteam member raved about life on the islands. “After my 19-day visit to Hawaii, I went back home and almost immediately was in such bad shape. I struggled to get anything done. I was short of breath,” they said. “I am now back in Hawaii. I’ve been here five days and feel so much better.”

New England

If heat brings on your PH symptoms, you might think about moving to New England. Summers are warm enough to be enjoyable, and several parts of the region seem to never get overly hot. You can live at a variety of altitudes, depending on the location you choose. Humidity might get high but usually not for long.

A myPHteam member from the area shared, “I would not be able to take all that hot weather, not like where I come from in Massachusetts (New England), with the breeze coming off the ocean.”

Florida

Florida can get hot and humid, which could be a fit if cold air or low humidity makes PH worse for you. The entire state is roughly at sea level, so altitude is a nonissue.

One myPHteam member who struggled with cold air found relief after relocating to Florida. “The cold air wouldn’t let me breathe, so I decided to move to Florida,” they said. “I’ve been here 18 years, and the breathing is very good.”

Factors To Consider Before You Relocate

If you’re thinking about making a move, it’s best if you can visit the location you’re considering before you take further steps. If you don’t like the area or your PH doesn’t improve there, you may want to reconsider whether a move will really help your quality of life.

If you do like the area, talk to your cardiologist and pulmonologist. You should make sure you can get the same level of medical care (or better) after you move. PH is both a heart disease and a lung disease, and you may want to confirm that you’ll be near a hospital or medical center offering good health care and cardiology providers who will understand your needs. They can also make sure you have a treatment plan in place to cover you during your transitional period.

Moving is rarely easy — in fact, it often makes or even tops lists of stressful life events — but it might get you to your goal of living as well as possible with PH.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPHteam is the social network for people with pulmonary hypertension and their loved ones. On myPHteam, more than 51,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with pulmonary hypertension.

Are you wondering whether a move might help your pulmonary hypertension? What effect has your current environment had on your PH symptoms? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on October 20, 2023
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    Angelica Balingit, M.D. is a specialist in internal medicine, board certified since 1996. Learn more about her here.
    Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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