Author: Sina Nafisi, M.D., FACC
Pulmonary hypertension is a fairly uncommon cardiovascular condition. But for the tens of thousands of patients who are diagnosed with PH each year, this condition presents cause for concern. While there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, disease management is possible through your cardiologist at Phoenix Heart Center.
What Is Pulmonary Hypertension?
PH is a form of high blood pressure (“hypertension”). It develops when the pulmonary arteries, which supply blood to the lungs, become narrowed or occluded. As a result, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through these arteries and capillaries to the lungs. The extra strain on the heart causes the muscle to weaken. If the issue is not properly addressed, then heart failure may occur. Without treatment, pulmonary hypertension can cause serious health problems and even death.
What Are the Signs of Pulmonary Hypertension?
Common symptoms of PH include:
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired
- Chest pain
- Swelling in the ankles
- Heart palpitations
- Cyanosis (bluish tint of lips and/or skin)
Two Types of Pulmonary Hypertension
It is important to distinguish between the two types of pulmonary hypertension:
- Idiopathic PH has no discernable underlying cause. Patients with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension may carry a gene that puts them at risk for this condition.
- Secondary PH is caused by an underlying health issue. Having blood clots in the lungs, a congenital heart defect, sleep apnea, or certain chronic diseases can put a patient at risk for developing secondary pulmonary hypertension. Specific lifestyle habits, such as drug use or living at high altitudes or hiking to high altitudes without first acclimating to the elevation can also cause secondary PH.
How Is Pulmonary Hypertension Diagnosed?
If your provider sees signs of pulmonary hypertension, then he or she may order blood tests and a chest x-ray to further investigate. A Doppler echocardiogram may be used to visualize the sound waves produced by your heartbeat. If PH is diagnosed, then your physician may classify it on the World Health Organization’s I-IV classification scale.
Treatment For Pulmonary Hypertension
While there is no cure for PH, there may be treatments for the underlying symptom. Disease management is possible. Your Phoenix cardiologist may recommend medications to widen the blood vessels, allowing for better flow. Other medications may be used to thin the blood or rid the body of excess fluid build-up. In some cases, surgery may be recommended.
Schedule Your Appointment With a Cardiologist
If you’re experiencing possible symptoms of pulmonary hypertension, schedule an appointment with a physician to begin the evaluation and diagnostic process. To schedule your appointment with a cardiologist at Phoenix Heart Center, contact us.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.