Coronavirus and Pulmonary Hypertension Coronavirus Advice Hub

Your questions about PH & coronavirus

Reviewed 7th May 2021 at 9.35am

Are people with pulmonary hypertension classed as clinically extremely vulnerable?

After the National PH Centres Directors’ submission to NHS England, in April 2020 people with pulmonary hypertension were recognised in the extremely vulnerable group of patients.

If you need to help someone, like an employer, to understand that you fall into this group, you might find this letter helpful.

What should people with PH be doing now?

People with pulmonary hypertension in the UK no longer need to shield, and should follow the same guidelines as everyone else.

If you’re worried about restrictions being lifted and getting out and about more, we’ve put together this advice page to help.

When can I get a vaccine and should I be worried about having one?

We have a page dedicated to these questions here

Do I need to wear a mask?

Wearing a face covering helps prevent the spread of coronavirus but we know that for some people with PH, wearing a mask can make breathlessness worse.

If you have pulmonary hypertension or another condition that makes wearing a face covering difficult, you do not have to wear one.

According to the UK Government website, “people are not required to prove they are exempt and it is for individuals to choose how they would want to communicate this to others”.

We have created this bespoke exemption notice that you can carry with you and choose to show if you wish.

Some people who find it difficult to wear a mask choose to wear a face shield instead.

The British Lung Foundation has the following advice about face coverings:

Just having a lung condition doesn’t make you exempt from wearing a face covering. But if you have a lung condition that makes you breathless and find wearing a face covering makes you feel too breathless, the governments in all 4 nations have said you don’t have to wear one, whatever the situation.

Most people with a lung condition, even if it’s severe, can manage to wear a face mask for a short period of time, and shouldn’t worry if they need to wear one. Wearing a mask does not reduce a person’s oxygen supply or cause a build-up of carbon dioxide. You may have read stories that say that it can, but this isn’t true. 
Face coverings can make breathing feel uncomfortable. This is mostly because they trap heat. As the weather gets cooler, and in places with air conditioning, wearing a face covering might feel easier.

It’s a good idea to try out wearing a face covering at home – it might not feel comfortable straight away, so it’s worth wearing one for short intervals around the house to try and get used to wearing one. You can also experiment with different types of covering. The feeling of wearing one might take time to get used to, but trying different types and starting with short periods of time can help you feel more comfortable. Bupa has an article on coping with face mask anxiety, you might find useful to read through.

What should I do about work?

Shielding in the UK has now ended, but your employer has a duty to ensure your workplace is COVID-secure. Find out more about what this means here.

Click here for information on benefits that may be available if you cannot work because of coronavirus.

You can get advice on your specific situation and your employment rights by visiting the Acas website or calling the Acas helpline, 0300 123 1100. 

How can I minimise the risk of spreading or contracting coronavirus?

  • Regular hand washing is still the most effective thing that you can do to decrease your risk of infection. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, in particular after being in public places. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Make sure everyone around you is practising good hand washing techniques.
  • Carry hand sanitiser with you outside of the home and use it regularly, especially if you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Observe social distancing in line with government advice (ideally 2 metres)
  • Make sure you have been fully vaccinated against other preventable infections, including the influenza vaccination.
  • Eating a good diet, getting enough sleep and taking regular exercise (within your capabilities) all help to ensure you stay as well as possible.

Can I get tested for coronavirus if I think I have symptoms?

Yes. Everyone in the UK is now able to be tested for coronavirus if they are experiencing symptoms. You are now able to order polymerase chain reaction (PCR) home testing kits if you meet certain criteria. Find out more and order them here.

If you do not have symptoms, you can order a rapid lateral flow home test. Find out more and order here.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Last medically reviewed: May, 2021 • Due for review: May, 2024