Rep. DiZoglio Shepherds Lung Awareness Bill to Passage

Methuen resident Ernesto Bencosme, who suffers from pulmonary hypertension, testified before the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health last April. (Courtesy photograph.)

Growing up, Methuen resident Ernesto Bencosme had always lived a healthy lifestyle and was athletic. Something would consistently, however, hold him back.

Doctors told Bencosme he simply had bad asthma but, in reality, his heart had been overcompensating his entire life and increasing in size. His physicians did not have the education or understanding of high blood pressure in the lungs—known as pulmonary hypertension—to give him an earlier diagnosis. It is a chronic and life-threatening disease that can lead to heart failure if left untreated, said Methuen Rep. Diana Dizoglio. She shepherded a bill through the legislature to form a task force to help raise awareness.

“I am hopeful the progress made through this task force will ultimately save lives and bring us closer to a cure of this disease,” DiZoglio said Tuesday.

In Bencosme case, he didn’t become aware of the extent of his medical issue until he was taken to a local hospital and later transferred to Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he was properly diagnosed.

The new state task force is charged with developing a comprehensive, strategic plan to improve health outcomes for individuals with the ailment. It will make recommendations to advance research and change the process for obtaining lung and heart-lung transplants.