Breathless, not voiceless: PHenomenal cyclists ride to raise awareness of life-limiting disease

Fifteen cyclists rode more than 200 miles over three days last month in support of the fight against pulmonary hypertension (PH), a silent disease which damages the heart and lungs.

Team PHenomenal Hope cyclists rode to raise awareness of PH and doctors, patients and supporters of the cause gathered at Imperial College London at the end of the journey from Sheffield to London.

The initiative was jointly supported by charities Pulmonary Hypertension Association UK (PHA UK) and Pulmonary Hypertension Association Ireland (PHA Ireland), aiming to raise the profile of the condition, provide help and information to ensure people affected have all the support they need.

Dr John Wort, PH consultant at Royal Brompton Hospital and team cyclist, said: “Some forms of pulmonary hypertension are very rare and if they’re not caught early we know patients don’t do so well.

“GPs see lots of patients with breathlessness and we need to increase the awareness so they can think it may be PH and refer them on to one of the treatment centres earlier.”

According to Dr Wort, it takes at least two years to diagnose PH since the first symptoms, so the campaign aimed to promote treatment by advising doctors and patients to connect the symptoms with the disease.

Symptoms of PH include breathlessness, tiredness, feeling faint or dizzy, swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or stomach and, according to the NHS, it has affected more than 7,000 people in the UK.

Along the way, Team PHenomenal Hope held a series of educational awareness events, starting in Sheffield, following another at the Royal Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, and finishing at Imperial College London.

Dr Luke Howard, consultant pulmonologist at Hammersmith Hospital and team cyclist, said: “We’re doing this because PH is still an invisible disease.”

PHA UK and PHA Ireland are charities with thousands of members who are doctors, patients and supporters, and links in with PHA Europe and PHA Unites States which collaborate in the worldwide initiative of generating awareness.

“We’re already talking about an event next year: a 24-hour relay ride, which would be a very tough challenge,” said Dr Howard when asked how successful the cycling initiative was.

There are nine PH specialism centres in the UK and Ireland. For more information about PHA UK and PHA Ireland visit and

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