Pulmonary Hypertension–Whaaat?

My name is Ellen and I intern at Pulmonary Hypertension Association. I am a senior majoring in American studies and psychology… so most people want to know why I am interning a niche non-profit serving the pulmonary hypertension community. In all good time, I will explain why PHA is the perfect place for me to intern.

But first, an explanation of pulmonary hypertension (PH). PH is a rare disease. It is high blood pressure in the lungs, which means the pulmonary artery which brings blood from the heart to the lungs constricts and hardens, reducing the amount of blood that gets oxygenated in the lungs. Untreated, PH will cause the heart to enlarge (as it works harder to pump enough blood to the lungs) and eventually fail, probably within 5 years of diagnosis.  Most patients are “women of childbearing years,” however PH affects people of all ages, races, and genders.

PHA is an organization that aims long-term to find a cure for PH. Short term, PHA works to raise awareness for PH in the general community and more specifically within the medical community. I work in the advocacy and awareness department, working on our grassroots campaigns to encourage members to reach out to their local elected officials and/or tell their story about living with PH to the local media.

My job involves making marketing materials and working directly with PH community members (which means patients, caregivers, and medical professionals) to urge them to raise awareness and advocate for themselves.

Check out my work on our campaign to encourage members to request city, state, or town proclamations. I worked with two PH patients to create a how-to video and have a step by step comic strip depicting the proclamations request process.