We have a highly skilled team who can provide a wide range of services from diagnosis to treatment.
Pulmonary hypertension happens when the pressure in the blood vessels going to the lungs is too high.
The heart pumps blood from the right ventricle to the lungs to get oxygen. Because the blood does not have to travel very far, the pressure is normally low. When the pressure is too high, the arteries in the lungs narrow, and the blood does not flow as well as it should. This results in less oxygen in the blood.
There are two main kinds of pulmonary hypertension. One runs in families or appears for no known reason. The other type is related to another condition, usually heart or lung disease.
Pulmonary hypertension may not cause any symptoms at first. Often, shortness of breath or lightheadedness during activity is the first symptom. As the disease gets worse, symptoms can include the following:
These common symptoms often mean that people don't get diagnosed until more serious symptoms come, such as dizziness, chest pain, ankle swelling, or feeling your heart race.
Pulmonary hypertension can develop because of another medical condition. Breathing problems such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and sleep apnea, are common causes. Other causes include:
Some people have a higher risk of pulmonary hypertension. These include people who:
Pulmonary hypertension is more common among women, people age 75 or older, and non-Hispanic African Americans.
Your doctor will probably run tests to estimate the blood pressure in your pulmonary arteries. These tests may include a chest X-ray, an echocardiogram, and a breathing test (called a lung function test). Your doctor may also need to do other tests to find out whether another medical condition is causing your pulmonary hypertension. These could include, a chest MRI, blood tests, and a chest CT scan.
If your doctor determines that you have pulmonary hypertension, he or she will want to see how severe it is. For this, they may order an exercise stress test. These tests measure your activity level and how well your lungs and heart work while you are exercising. These tests can also be done during treatment to see how well the treatment is working.
There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension. But treatment can improve symptoms and slow the disease. The treatment depends on the cause.
If your condition is caused by lung disease, you may need oxygen therapy to raise the level of oxygen in your blood. Or if blood clots cause it in your lungs, you will need to take blood-thinning medicines to prevent clots from getting larger.
In some severe cases, people who have pulmonary hypertension need surgery. This could include a lung transplant or a heart and lung transplant.
You can take steps to slow the progress of pulmonary hypertension by making healthy lifestyle changes and managing high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, chronic liver disease, and chronic lung disease from tobacco use.
In addition to seeking treatment, there are steps you can take to prioritize your physical health by relaxing, energizing, strengthening, and nourishing your body. Here are a few places to begin:
Presbyterian Heart and Vascular Care has a skilled vascular care team who can provide a wide range of services from diagnosis to treatment. Their surgeons are trained in many different techniques and procedures, many of which can provide you with a shorter recovery period and less hospital time.