Nutrition, Exercise,
& Wellbeing


Guidelines for a PAH-Friendly Diet

Eating a healthy mix of foods may help support your body while being treated for PAH. It may also help you maintain a healthy or target body weight.

It's important that you work with your healthcare team to develop a nutrition plan that is right for you.

Sodium Consumption and Fluid Intake

Sodium helps regulate the balance of fluids in the body. When too much sodium is consumed, water builds up in the body which can lead to edema (swelling).

When water builds up in your tissues, the volume of blood your heart has to pump also increases. An effective way to get rid of edema is to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet and restrict the amount of fluids you drink. Doing so can reduce fluid in the body, which in turn reduces the amount of blood your heart has to pump.

Consult your doctor for support with developing a nutrition plan that is right for you.

Tips to Reduce Salt

  • Read labels of prepared and packaged foods. Sodium hides in drinks too!
  • Don’t salt food during eating or cooking
  • Sweets can be salty: read labels of baked goods
  • Remove salt shaker from the table

Try to break the habit of adding salt to your food. Instead, try to season with substitutes like fresh herbs and spices:

  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

Hidden Sources of Salt

In the Medicine Cabinet

  • Mouthwashes and toothpaste
  • Some chewable antacid tablets
  • Some prescription drugs
  • Laxatives

In the Spice Rack

  • Celery flakes
  • Parsley flakes

In the Refrigerator

  • Sauerkraut
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Cold cuts
  • Frankfurters

In the Pantry

  • Salted crackers or chips
  • Canned vegetables with added salt
  • Canned tomato
  • Olives

PAH and the Gut Microbiome

Research suggests that the gut microbiota may play a role in the occurrence and development of PAH. Gut microbiota is the collection of microorganisms in your digestive system and can include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbial cells.

Some of these microorganisms are helpful, while others can be harmful to your health. Research has shown that the design of your gut microbiome can play an important role in various cardiovascular disease risk factors—but the specific connection between your microbiome and PAH is not yet fully understood. But maintaining a "healthy gut" may play a part in supporting your overall health. You can try things like:

  • Increasing your intake of fiber-containing foods like beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Enzymes in the gut break down fiber, which experts say might make your colon less hospitable to some damaging microorganisms. Remember to avoid canned beans, which can be high in sodium—even if you rinse them
  • Adding fermented foods to your diet. Research has shown that diets rich in foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables, kefir, and kombucha may increase the diversity of your gut microbes and decrease molecular signs of inflammation
  • Limiting your consumption of artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes. Research suggests that consuming certain artificial sweeteners may be associated with lowered diversity in your microbiome

How to Exercise With PAH

Physical activity is encouraged, but do what is comfortable for you.

  • It may have a positive effect on your quality of life
  • Low-intensity aerobic physical activity is recommended, such as walking
  • Every person is different–no single exercise program is right for everyone
  • Engage in physical activity that works for you

Safety Tips for Physical Activity:

  • Plan to do your physical activity when you have the most energy
  • Work with a partner
  • If there is furniture around, ensure it’s out of the way in case you lose your balance 
  • Don’t hold your breath 
  • Include a warm‐up and cool‐down routine
  • Start small and work up. If you feel tired, you have found the limit of what you can do 
  • Always talk with your healthcare team before starting any physical activity

The Power of a Positive Outlook

Stress and Coping Strategies:

Stress is a normal part of living. You may have experienced stress before your diagnosis because of symptoms or misdiagnoses. Once diagnosed, PAH-related stress is common because of the burden of living with a chronic disease. You can learn to manage stress over time by developing coping strategies.

Adapt and move forward. Explore different coping strategies to see what works for you.




Talking About PAH

PAH is an ''invisible'' condition, which means it's not something you can see in others.

It can be difficult for your friends and family to understand how PAH is impacting your daily life. It helps to give those in your support circle some extra information about the disease. You may also benefit from developing a short summary of PAH and its effect on you. This can help you quickly get others up to speed.

Share your thoughts and feelings with your loved ones and consider speaking to a mental health professional. Support groups, where you can speak to others with PAH, can also be a great resource.

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Asking for Help

Always remember that you’re not fighting PAH alone. Your care team will support you and try to answer any questions you may have.