Pulmonary hypertension also is known as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a form of high blood pressure that affects the arteries, it starts from the heart and proceeds to the lungs.
It is quite different from systemic blood pressure which has to do greatly with the force of blood moving through blood vessels in the body while pulmonary has to do with the pressure the heart uses to pump blood from the heart to arteries in the lungs. Also, the numbers are relatively low compared to systemic blood pressure, the pulmonary pressure considered normal at rest is 8-20mmHg. If it’s is greater than 25mmHg and 30mmHg during activities then it can be referred to as Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH).
Any of the following conditions can lead to pulmonary hypertension;
- Heart Failure
- Lungs with blood clots
- Heart defects
- Use of drugs like cocaine
- Lung diseases like bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis or emphysema.
- Sleep disorder (sleep apnea).
Some rare cases where pulmonary doctors can’t find a cause of the high blood pressure is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary hypertension.
The main symptom experienced is shortness of breath which tends to get worse as time passes by. Some other symptoms are;
- Chest pains
- Decreased appetite
- Swelling of ankles and knees
- Bluish-colored lips or skin
For diagnosis, a series of test would likely be carried out like;
- Echocardiogram: an ultrasound sound picture of the beating heart could be used to check blood pressure in arteries of the lungs.
- CT scan: This scan shows enlarged arteries and also any problems that are unrelated.
- Ventilation-perfusion scan: This scan helps to show blood clots that could cause high blood pressure.
- Electrocardiogram(ECG): This traces the heart activity and can tell if the right side of the chest is under strain.
Pulmonary Arterial hypertension is also caused by sleep disorders which can be treated by the Hunterdon Sleep Centre, Flemington. This center is capable of treating sleep disorders like sleep apnea, periodic limb movement syndrome, restless leg syndrome, Narcolepsy, and Insomnia. Also, the Pulmonary and Sleep Associates Of Hunterdon has within its board the most skilled and professional pulmonary doctors in Flemington, NJ who can also give you the right medications and enlighten you on how to manage your condition.
Vasodilators (Blood Vessel Dilators).
This drug works by opening up blood vessels, one of the most common is epoprostenol(veletri) which is usually taken through an intravenous catheter via a pump worn on your belt or shoulder. Another example is Iloprost which can be inhaled six to nine times a day through a mobilizer.
Endothelin Receptor Antagonists.
This drug stops the effect of Endothelin which causes the narrowing of the blood vessels, although it helps in also increasing energy levels it can be harmful to the liver. An example of this drug is Bosentan, it is taken orally but shouldn’t be used by pregnant women.
The drug warfarin is usually prescribed to avoid blood clots in the smaller arteries; it should be taken exactly as prescribed as failure to do so can result in bleeding complications.
Diuretics (water pills).
This type of drugs helps in regulation of fluid content in the body to reduce the amount of pressure needed by the heart to pump blood to the lungs.
The drug Lanoxin can help the heart beat faster and stronger. It also controls the heart rate if you have a condition known as arrhythmias.
Your doctor is likely to ask you to take oxygen therapy especially if you live in high altitude or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Apart from medications, surgery is also an option.
- Atrial Septostomy. This is an open heart surgery where the surgeon creates an opening between the upper left and right chambers of the heart to relieve pressure on the right side of the heart.
- Opting For Transplants. A lung or heart-lung transplant can be an option normally for idiopathic pulmonary hypertension patients especially those of younger ages.