Cynthia Croughton from Hertfordshire was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension aged 70, and years later, still enjoys an active life. She shares her inspirational PH journey with Emphasis.

“Although I was only diagnosed with PH much later in life, I’ve had problems with my lungs since I was eighteen months old, when I developed pneumonia following a bout of measles. Later on I can remember becoming out of breath just walking up the hill to the train station on my way to work in London.

That said, I have always loved sport and played netball, tennis, badminton and occasionally squash when I was younger. I was always out of breath, of course, but after a while I developed little ploys to get my breath back – tidying up the tennis balls at the back of the court, or bouncing the ball a few times before serving. 

It wasn’t until 2004, just after my 70th birthday, that I realised something had changed. I was first referred to a cardiologist who said the problem was my lungs. A chest specialist sent me for a CT scan which revealed both lungs were full of blood clots; I was admitted to hospital straight away and started on Warfarin. 

Being a member of PHA UK is a huge support and encouragement.

Cynthia Croughton

Despite this I had further bouts of pulmonary emboli in 2005 and 2006, and it was not until a second opinion was sought that I was referred to Hammersmith Hospital’s Pulmonary Hypertension Service in February 2007. It had taken five doctors two and a half years to properly diagnose PH.

In a way, it was a relief to find myself in a hospital where doctors and nurses were showing me such care and explaining all I needed to know about my illness. I have gradually become more breathless more quickly on exertion, which has restricted my walking and activities. But I have a stairlift and use a stick, or sometimes two. I can still drive and have a Blue Badge but most of all I have a very supportive husband and family, many kind friends, and neighbours offering help too.

Being a member of PHA UK is a huge support and encouragement and I realise how fortunate I am to have had such an active and contented life for so long. Others are not so lucky, because PH is not an old ladies disease. I have had to learn patience and to be thankful for the many things I still enjoy. So to anyone newly diagnosed I would say, don’t be despondent; there is so much help out there so please accept it. Then with some adjustments you can live a happy and fulfilled life.”