Pulmonary Hypertension: Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatments

Pulmonary Hypertension: Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatments
Published : Jun 24, 2024

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure disorder that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. The early symptom of pulmonary hypertension is shortness of breath.

What do you mean by pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is a life-threatening disorder that gets worse with time if not treated. However, treatments can help to ease the symptoms and allow you to live with this disorder.

Having pulmonary hypertension means you have high blood pressure in the arteries that pass from your heart to your lungs. It is different from regular high blood pressure.

When someone suffers from pulmonary hypertension, the tiny arteries in their lungs that carry oxygen-rich blood become blocked or narrow. This makes it difficult for the blood to flow through and increases the blood pressure in the lungs.

As a result, your heart needs to work hard to pump blood through arteries, and after some time, your heart muscles get weak. This can also increase the risk of experiencing heart failure.

Alternative Names

Here are some alternative names used for Pulmonary hypertension:

  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension(PAH)
  • Sporadic primary pulmonary hypertension
  • Secondary pulmonary hypertension
  • Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • Primary pulmonary hypertension(PPH)
  • Familial primary pulmonary hypertension
  • Cor pulmonale - pulmonary hypertension

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension

The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension develop gradually. You might not notice them for months or years. As the pulmonary disorder progresses, symptoms start to get worse.

Some common pulmonary hypertension symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or chest pressure
  • Shortness of breath, first while exercising and then while resting
  • Fainting spells or dizziness
  • Swelling in your legs, ankles, and belly area
  • Fatigue
  • Pounding heartbeat or fast pulse
  • Due to low oxygen levels and blue or grey skin color. Based on your skin color, these changes can be seen easily or hardly.

Causes of Pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension can develop on its own or due to another medical disorder. Some common causes of developing pulmonary hypertension include:

Related Article: How to Manage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Other medical disorders like:

How common is pulmonary hypertension disorder?

Some types of pulmonary hypertension are rare, like pulmonary arterial hypertension and PH caused due to blood clots. However, other types are more common, mainly pulmonary hypertension caused by lung or heart disorders.

Pulmonary hypertension is common among older adults. Across the world, almost 1 in 10 adults above the age of 65 suffer from pulmonary hypertension.

Different types of pulmonary hypertension

The World Health Organization (WHO) has divided pulmonary hypertension into five different groups based on its cause. Other types of pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Group 1: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), which includes conditions such as idiopathic PAH and heritable PAH.
  • Group 2: Pulmonary hypertension due to left-sided heart disease.
  • Group 3: Pulmonary hypertension due to lung diseases or hypoxia, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial lung disease.
  • Group 4: Pulmonary hypertension due to chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) and other pulmonary artery obstructions.
  • Group 5: Pulmonary hypertension due to unclear or multifactorial mechanisms, including blood disorders, systemic disorders, and metabolic disorders.

Diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension

If you suffer from shortness of breath and visit the doctor, he will first discuss your medical history. Your doctor might also conduct some tests to diagnose pulmonary hypertension, including:

  • Echocardiogram
  • CT scan
  • Ventilation-perfusion scan
  • Blood tests
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Chest X-ray
  • Exercise testing

Treatments for Pulmonary hypertension

Although there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, the right treatment can help you manage the symptoms effectively. Depending on your condition, the doctor will recommend a treatment plan.

The treatment plan will be based on your needs and the cause of pulmonary hypertension. It can include:

Healthy lifestyle changes

Healthy food items should include consuming less salt.

Physical activity regularly, which can be done through pulmonary rehabilitation

Being physically fit can also help to prevent pulmonary hypertension

Medications

  • Blood thinners
  • Drugs like PDE5 inhibitors help to relax pulmonary arteries and blood vessels to allow smooth blood flow.
  • Medications that help to control the blood that is pumped throughout the body
  • Diuretics that help to reduce swelling of arteries

Related Article: How does Sildenafil work in Pulmonary hypertension?

Other Treatment options

Summary

Therefore, pulmonary hypertension can be treated if diagnosed on time. The best way to take care of yourself is to stay active. Consult the doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms of pulmonary hypertension. Doctors may suggest oral treatments like Tadalafil to help you ease symptoms of pulmonary hypertension.

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