Pulmonary Hypertension is high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and the lower right chamber of the heart or ventricle. The pulmonary arteries carry blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs where the blood picks up oxygen. Changes in the walls of the pulmonary arteries make it difficult for the heart to push blood through them. Because of this, the pressure in the arteries increases. Due to the high pressures in the right ventricle of the heart, it has to work harder to push blood and becomes larger, strained and weak. Untreated, the disease can be very debilitating and symptoms may severely limit all physical activity.
Pulmonary Hypertension can be caused by many different things. Some of these include:
- Diseases, such as HIV (AIDS), congenital heart disease, sickle cell disease, chronic lung diseases, sleep apnea or auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis
- High blood pressure and mitral valve disease
- Blood clotting disorders or blood clots in the lungs
- Metabolic disorders like thyroid disease
- Use of street drugs
In some people, the cause is not known. This is called idiopathic pulmonary hypertension (PHTN).
Signs and symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension can include fatigue, chest pain, fast heartbeat and/or shortness of breath, even during routine activities.
If you think you might have Pulmonary Hypertension, talk to your doctor. It is important for you to know your symptoms and to monitor them for any changes. If you notice any worsening symptoms or new symptoms, tell your doctor immediately.
A combination of tests, physical exam and review of the patient’s medical history will aid in diagnosing Pulmonary Hypertension. Our multidisciplinary team will obtain results of the tests and collaborate/conference with each other to correctly diagnose the problem and the severity of your illness.
Some tests used to aid in diagnosing PHTN may include, but are not limited to:
- Ultrasound of the heart (cardiac echo)
- Chest x-ray
- Right heart catheterization
- Lung function test
- Blood tests
- Chest CT or MRI
There is no cure for Pulmonary Hypertension. However, our multidisciplinary team will work together to devise the best treatment plan to manage your disease and symptoms. There are a number of medicines available to treat Pulmonary Hypertension and our physicians may prescribe medicines that can be taken by mouth, injected or inhaled. Our team will also work with you to make lifestyle changes that can help to improve your symptoms.
Your treatment will be customized to you based upon the cause and severity of your pulmonary hypertension and could include surgery, oxygen therapy and treatment of underlying diseases such as sleep apnea, lung disease, thyroid disease, just to name a few.