Pulmonary vascular disease (PVD) is a broad term including any condition that affects the blood vessels within the lungs. These vessels take blood that is depleted of oxygen to the lungs from the right side of the heart. Deoxygenated blood travels through the pulmonary arteries where oxygen is taken up. The pulmonary veins leave the lungs and take blood rich with oxygen to the left side of the heart where oxygenated blood is distributed throughout the body. This process continually replenishes the blood with oxygen, and lets carbon dioxide be exhaled. A pulmonary vascular disorder can lead to cardiovascular problems as well as impairing the quality of the patient’s life.
The Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program—a collaborative venture between the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Lung Center and the Heart & Vascular Center—offers personalized care and coordinated management for all types of PVD, including pulmonary arterial hypertension, right heart failure, and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). Our pulmonologists and cardiologists work closely together. This expertise and collaboration helps patients manage symptoms and have an improved quality of life. The research on PVD which is conducted at BWH provides greater understanding of these diseases and is translated directly into exceptional patient care.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs. It occurs when the small blood vessels that go through the lungs become thicker, constrict tighter or become plugged. This leads to increased pressure in those vessels making the heart work harder to pump blood. If high pressure remains, the heart will become enlarged and weaker, pumping blood less efficiently into the lungs and eventually throughout the body. Types of PH include:
Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension
Treatment for Pulmonary Hypertension
A team of BWH clinicians collaborate to treat each patient's pulmonary hypertension and associated medical conditions. Numerous treatment options are available, depending on the type of pulmonary hypertension.
Treatment for PH can lower patients' pulmonary pressure, reduce symptoms, increase exercise capacity, and prolong life expectancy.
Read the Pulmonary Advances Newsletter article: Improving Outcomes for Patients with Pulmonary Embolism and Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension
A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot breaks off from a deep vein (usually in the leg), travels through the right side of the heart, and is pumped into the lungs.
An embolism to the lung may cause serious life-threatening consequences and, potentially, death.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism:
Treatment for Pulmonary Embolism:
Hepatopulmonary syndrome is manifested by shortness of breath and hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood of the arteries) caused by vasodilation (broadening of the blood vessels) in the lungs of patients with liver disease. The syndrome is most often found in patients with chronic and acute liver failure. The mechanism is unknown but may be due to increased liver production or decreased liver clearance of vasodilators, possibly involving nitric oxide.
Symptoms of Hepatopulmonary Syndrome:
Treatment for Hepatopulmonary Syndrome:
The only definitive treatment is liver transplantation.
The causes of pulmonary vascular disease vary according to which of the lungs’ blood vessels are affected.
In treating PVD, your physician aims to lessen the severity of symptoms, which will help improve your quality of life. This will also lessen the strain on your heart and decrease your risk for heart failure. You and your healthcare team will develop a personalized plan (based on your specific condition, age, and other factors) that may include a variety of medications and surgery.
When you become a patient, our team of experts develops a personalized, multidisciplinary care plan based on your specific condition. Our Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program provides long-term care and support to help patients manage their disease. We emphasize patient education, give patients access to research opportunities and offer a support group for patients and families to share personal experiences.
The Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program—joint venture between the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Lung Center and the Heart & Vascular Center—offers highly specialized, multidisciplinary evaluation and care for patients with complex pulmonary vascular conditions. Our pulmonologists and cardiologists, work closely together and with cardiac and thoracic surgeons, and other cardiovascular specialists.
Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families to access computers and knowledgeable staff.
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