Pulmonary hypertension is a type of blood pressure condition that affects the blood vessels supplying the lungs. Due to this, the tiny lung vessels become narrowed, blocked or destroyed making it harder for the heart to pump blood through them. This raises the blood pressure in the lungs thus causing the heart to work harder to make the blood flow. This causes weakening of the heart muscle, thus leading to heart failure in the long run. Although no cure for some forms of pulmonary hypertension treatment can reduce symptoms & improve quality of life.
What are the causes of pulmonary hypertension?
Many a time doctors are unable to find any reason behind the increase in blood pressure of lungs. In other cases, there are some common causes that are known to cause this condition. These are as follows:
- Several autoimmune diseases such as systematic lupus erythematosus or sclerederma
- Certain drugs and medications
- Congenital heart defects caused at birth
- Pulmonary fibrosis, or other chronic pulmonary lung diseases
- Liver diseases, kidney diseases
- Sleep apnea
- Pulmonary embolism that causes clots in the lungs
What are the symptoms of PAH?
Not all people have any noticeable symptoms till a certain point. The symptoms start mainly with shortness of breath when a person is active. However, this starts getting worse and worse and you star noticing that you start getting tired easily even in your daily life easily. Other common signs of this condition include:
- Chest pain/ pressure
- Passing out
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Dry cough
- Bluish lips and skin
- Shortness of breath
How is pulmonary hypertension diagnosed?
If you are suffering from chronic shortness of breath, your doctor may order following tests along with a detailed medical history of your family to diagnose the PAH correctly:
- Chest X-ray for a look at the pulmonary arteries and heart size
- ECG for revealing whether the heart size is bigger than it should be
- 6-minute walk test to understand your exercise tolerance
- Echo test for checking the working of your heart
- CT pulmonary angiogram to rule out of clots in pulmonary circulation
- Right heart catheterization
- Cardiac catheter to look at other causes of all your symptoms other than PAH
- Lung function test to check the functioning of your lungs
- Sleep study for measuring your sleeping oxygen levels
- Other blood tests
What are the treatments for PAH?
Though there is no cure for this condition, there are certain treatments available for treating the symptoms associated with this disease. They help in relieving the symptoms and improving the quality of life. Some of the treatments of this condition involve:
- Medications as per your requirement
- Oxygen therapy in case you suffer from low oxygen
- Surgery of your heart or lung transplantation or pulmonary angioplasty
It is best to see a doctor who specializes in treating this so as to appropriately care and manage your condition. This can be done through making some lifestyle changes and keeping a track all your symptoms and signs in the long run.