Pulmonary Hypertension

Your Care Explained > Conditions and Diagnoses : Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a lung disorder in which the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises far above normal levels.

It’s almost twice as common in women as in men and, in African Americans, four times as common in women. It’s often an effect of another medical condition, although it may be genetic.

Causes of Pulmonary Hypertension

The increase in blood pressure results from stiffening or blockages in lung arteries, which make it harder for blood to flow. When pulmonary hypertension is due to genetic or unknown factors, it is called primary pulmonary hypertension. Secondary pulmonary hypertension occurs as a result of the effects of other health conditions, such as a blood clot in the lungs, connective-tissue disorders or other heart or lung diseases.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension

Symptoms may include fatigue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, fainting spells, swelling in the ankles or legs, bluish lips and skin, chest pain, racing pulse and palpitations—all of which indicate too little oxygen in the blood. In advanced stages, the patient may become bedridden and will have symptoms even when resting.

Diagnosing Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is rarely discovered in a routine medical examination, and in its later stages, the signs of the disease can be confused with other conditions affecting the heart and lungs. The diagnosis is usually made by ruling out other conditions, using:

Treating Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a chronic condition that may be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. In the early stages, measures like avoiding cigarette smoke, dietary salt, high altitudes and stress, as well as getting adequate rest, moderate exercise and a healthy diet, may be helpful. Unfortunately, research has indicated that primary pulmonary hypertension may not be detected until it is advanced, so it is important to bring symptoms like fatigue and breathlessness to your doctor’s attention.

Because the disease varies with each individual, finding the most effective treatment for advanced pulmonary hypertension often requires trying several of the following:

Nutrition and Prevention

Reference these links for information on how to prevent heart disease and how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011

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