High Blood Pressure

All About Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the blood pressure in the arteries carrying oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs, rises. The term pulmonary implies having to do with the lungs.

As the small arteries that carry blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs constrict, the heart has to pump against higher resistance. To keep up, the heart works harder. When the pressure becomes too high, the heart circulates less blood through the lungs. This is when you suffer from what is known as pulmonary hypertension.

There are a number of causes of pulmonary hypertension. There are a number of reasons that hinder the flow of blood to the lungs. Some of the reasons are tissue diseases such as scleroderma, congenial heart diseases, HIV infection, liver diseases, clotting of blood and also some medications like the diet pill fen-phen. There is also the possibility of genetic predisposition towards pulmonary hypertension.

There are two types of pulmonary hypertension. One is primary pulmonary hypertension when the triggers can not be correctly ascertained and the other is secondary pulmonary hypertension when the triggers can be identified. In fact, pulmonary hypertension caused by any pre-existing disease is known as secondary pulmonary hypertension. 

The common symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are breathlessness, chest pain, extreme fatigue, ankle swelling and loss of consciousness. These symptoms often will give you the first clue. However if pulmonary hypertension progresses, you need to get it diagnosed through tests. There are a number of methods through which pulmonary hypertension can be diagnosed. Examples of these methods are chest x-ray, autoantibody blood tests, liver function tests, echocardiograms, ECG, Ventilation-perfusion scans, and CAT scan of the chest.

Once the disease has been diagnosed, one needs to follow it up with the required treatment. There are numerous medications that are used to treat pulmonary hypertension that work to lessen the pressure in the lungs and make the heart work more efficiently. The different types of medications are prostacyclin, calcium channel blockers, bosentan, anticoagulants, diuretics, digoxin and others.

In case the patient does not respond to medication, other lines of treatment such as lung transplantation, oxygen supplements, thromboendarterectomy can be considered.

Pulmonary hypertension is an unceasing ailment that should be managed with the correct cure and lifestyle changes. Diet, moderation in levels of effort and exercise are some of the lifestyle changes that need to be followed.