This is a condition that describes when the pulmonary arteries (the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs) narrow, become blocked or damaged so they can not carry as much blood. This puts a strain on the heart because it has to work harder to try to force blood through. The blood flow causes the pressure to build up in the narrow arteries, which results in high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs. It is a serious condition.
In the early stages there may not be any symptoms. As the disease progresses symptoms get worse and can include:
- Shortness of breath with or without activity
- Chest pain or pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Swelling of the ankles, legs, and abdomen
- Symptoms usually limit a person’s ability to exercise and do other activities.
Many things can cause pulmonary hypertension. Sometimes the cause is not known. When the cause is unknown, the disorder is called primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) or idiopathic hypertension (IPH).
Secondary pulmonary hypertension is when the pulmonary hypertension develops from another medical condition. Common causes are breathing problems such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Other causes include congestive heart failure, birth defects in the heart, chronic pulmonary thromboembolism (old blood clots in the pulmonary arteries), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), cirrhosis ( a chronic liver disease), lupus, pulmonary fibrosis ( a condition that causes scarring in the lungs), and certain medicines.
How it is Diagnosed:
To find out if you have pulmonary hypertension, your provider may order an echocardiogram.
If the cause of your pulmonary hypertension is known, treating the cause may be beneficial. While there are treatments, there are no cures. Using oxygen from a tank, taking a water pill (diuretic), and/or using a medicine called a calcium channel blocker may help. Sometimes blood vessel dilators and endothelin receptor antagonists are other types of medicine that may be used. Your provider will help decide what type of medicine is best for you.