What is pulmonary hypertension?
Pulmonary refers to the lungs.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure High Blood Pressure Each heart beat pushes blood through your arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your body. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries. Without... read more .
Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in your lungs' arteries. Arteries are big blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to parts of your body. Your lungs' arteries are called the pulmonary arteries.
Pulmonary hypertension is an uncommon disorder. It's different from hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the arteries to the rest of the body. Hypertension is much more common than pulmonary hypertension.
In pulmonary hypertension, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your lungs
Pulmonary hypertension is usually caused by certain lung or heart problems and sometimes by certain drugs
Pulmonary hypertension makes you feel weak and short of breath
To tell if you have pulmonary hypertension, doctors will do a chest x-ray and ultrasound of your heart
Doctors treat the cause of your pulmonary hypertension and may give you medicine to open up your pulmonary arteries
What causes pulmonary hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension is often caused by:
Disorders that cause low oxygen levels in your blood, such as severe COPD Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) COPD is a disease in your lungs that makes it hard to breathe. It's hard to push air out of your lungs. Difficulty pushing air out is called chronic airflow obstruction. Smoking cigarettes is... read more (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or sleep apnea Sleep Apnea Apnea is a medical word for "not breathing." Sleep apnea is when your breathing slows or stops for a short time while you're sleeping and then restarts. This happens over and over each time... read more
Other causes include sickle cell disease and certain drugs, such as fenfluramine (and other related weight-loss drugs), amphetamines, cocaine, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Sometimes pulmonary hypertension is caused by an inherited problem.
Sometimes doctors don't know what causes a person's pulmonary hypertension.
What are the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension?
The main symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are:
Feeling weak and short of breath during mild activity
You may have mild chest discomfort and leg swelling.
How can doctors tell if I have pulmonary hypertension?
Doctors suspect pulmonary hypertension based on your symptoms, especially if you have a lung problem or heart failure. To tell for sure, they’ll do:
Echocardiography Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures Echocardiography can be used to detect abnormalities in heart wall motion and to measure the volume of blood being pumped from the heart with each beat. This procedure can also detect abnormalities... read more —an ultrasound of your heart
If it looks like your pulmonary hypertension is severe, doctors may do:
Cardiac catheterization Cardiac Catheterization Cardiac catheterization (also called cardiac cath) is a heart procedure done in a hospital. The doctor puts a thin plastic tube (catheter) through an artery and into your heart. Doctors get... read more —doctors insert a thin, hollow tube (catheter) through a vein or artery into your heart to measure the blood pressure in your heart and pulmonary arteries
How do doctors treat pulmonary hypertension?
Doctors will treat the cause of your pulmonary hypertension and have you avoid things that can make it worse. For example, they will have you stop smoking and not travel to high-altitude areas, such as up in the mountains.
They may give you medicine such as:
Extra oxygen through prongs in your nose or a mask on your face
Medicine to open your pulmonary arteries
Water pills (diuretics)
Anticoagulants (blood thinners) to prevent blood clots in your lungs
If you have severe pulmonary hypertension, doctors may do a lung transplant Lung and Heart-Lung Transplantation Lung transplantation is the surgical removal of a healthy lung or part of a lung from a living person and then its transfer into someone whose lungs no longer function. Heart-lung transplantation... read more (a surgery where doctors remove all or part of a lung from someone else’s body and put it into your body).