Learn About Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a health condition that involves high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs and the right side of the heart.
If the tiny arteries in your lungs become narrowed, blocked or destroyed, it is more difficult for the blood to pass through the lungs. This can raise the pulmonary blood pressure, putting the right ventricle of the heart under greater stress to pump the blood through the small arteries in the lungs. With time, this can cause the health muscle to become weaker and, ultimately, fail.
Initially, the signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension can be subtle and you may not notice them. However, they become more obvious with time as the condition progresses.
Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Swelling in your ankles, legs and abdomen
- Bluish tinge to lips and skin
- Fast heart rate and palpitations
As there are many possible causes of pulmonary hypertension, the diagnosis of the condition is relatively complicated, involving a complete medical history, physical exam and other diagnostic tests.
In the physical examination, you doctor will usually check for:
- Abnormal rhythm or sound of your heart
- Enlargement of the jugular vein in your neck
- Fluid retention in your ankles, legs or abdomen
- Bluish tinge to nail beds
Additionally, a blood test is required to monitor levels of hormones, antibodies, gasses and certain proteins. Other tests that may be used in the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension include an echocardiogram, X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan and pulmonary function tests.
There are many medications that can help to treat pulmonary hypertension and allow you to live life with less severe symptoms of the condition.
For example, oxygen therapy can help to increase the oxygen levels in your blood so that you feel more energized. Anticoagulant medications such as Warfarin help to stop the blood from forming clots so that it flows through the blood vessels with less resistance.
If you have edema, and there is pooling of fluid in your ankles, legs and abdomen, diuretics can help to remove the extra fluid and reduce the swelling.
In some cases, surgery may also be needed. For example, if there is a blood clot in the pulmonary artery that blocks the blood flow to the lungs, this can be removed in a surgical procedure. Lung transplantation is also recommended for severe pulmonary hypertension that doesn’t respond well to other treatments.
The treatment that is best for you will depend on your specific circumstances. Your doctor will go through the possible options and help you to make the best decision to improve the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension and your overall health.
Want to know more?
If you think that you may be affected by pulmonary hypertension, it is important to talk to medical professional about the next steps you should take.
At Central Arkansas Lung, we will be happy to give you personalized and professional advice about management options for pulmonary hypertension. Simply call us if you’d like more information or to organize an appointment to discuss your symptoms.