About pulmonary hypertension

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is a life-threatening illness if not taken care of properly. If diagnosed, treatments can alleviate the symptoms and help you live with the disease more comfortably. High blood pressure in the arteries that run from your heart to your lungs is known as Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH).

  • The small arteries in your lungs get narrowed or obstructed as a result of PAH. Blood has a harder time flowing through them, which raises the blood pressure in your lungs. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood through the arteries, and the heart muscle weakens over time. It can eventually lead to cardiac failure.
  • The blood arteries in the lungs generate an increased amount of muscle in the wall as a result of pulmonary hypertension. To receive oxygen, the heart pumps blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.
  •  Because blood does not have to travel far, the force in this side of the heart and the artery carrying blood from the right ventricle to the lungs is typically low—much less than systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
  • Pulmonary hypertension can occur in the context of a variety of different illnesses, including lung disease and heart disease. Pulmonary hypertension is associated with a high risk of heart failure.

What are the symptoms for pulmonary hypertension?

Edema in ankles symptom was found in the pulmonary hypertension condition

Individuals with pulmonary Hypertension may not notice any symptoms for a while. 

  • The most common symptom is Shortness of breath when active. It usually begins out slowly and worsens with time. You may realize that you can no longer do some of the activities you used to.
  • Shortness of breath during regular tasks, such as climbing stairs, is mostly the first sign of pulmonary hypertension. Symptoms consist of fatigue, dizziness, and Fainting spells. As the heart's workload escalates, Swelling in the ankles, abdomen, legs, lips, and skin with a bluish tinge, and Chest pain may occur.
  • The progression of pulmonary fibrosis and the severity of symptoms are different from person to person. Some people fall sick with a serious illness very rapidly. Others have mild symptoms that slowly increase over months or years.
  • Symptoms vary in their severity, and a patient may or may not experience all of them. Other symptoms can consist of irregular heartbeat, (palpitations or strong, throbbing sensation), racing heartbeats, dizziness, or passing out. 
  • Skin or lips appear with a bluish tinge or shade. Pulmonary Hypertension symptoms frequently impede a person's ability to exercise and participate in other activities. As the disease progresses, it may become hard to carry out any activity.

What are the causes for pulmonary hypertension?

The pressure in the blood vessels increases while carrying blood from the heart to the lungs. This is when pulmonary hypertension occurs. Nowadays, this has become very prominent due to the change in the eating habits and the lifestyles. People start developing the symptoms at a very young age.

 The common causes of the pulmonary hypertension are:

  • Pulmonary hypertension is mainly caused due to the changes to the pulmonary arteries
  • People already suffering from heart diseases are the most likely to get pulmonary hypertension.
  • The disease can also be caused due to certain conditions like connective tissue diseases (scleroderma).
  • Even congenital disabilities of the heart can cause pulmonary hypertension
  • Chronic disorders and blood clots in the lungs
  • High blood pressure in the lungs
  • Low blood oxygen levels
  • Severe lung diseases like emphysema
  • Genetics is most likely to occur if any of your parents have a medical history of this disorder.
  • Liver diseases like cirrhosis and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cause pulmonary hypertension.
  • Illegal drugs such as Cocaine
  • Other rare causes of pulmonary hypertension are sarcoidosis, histiocytosis, and compression of blood vessels in the lungs.

What are the treatments for pulmonary hypertension?

There are no permanent cures for pulmonary hypertension. However, if the cause is identified at the earliest, it is possible to prevent damage to your pulmonary arteries. Some of the given tips might help you to overcome its effects:

  • Medicines- If pulmonary hypertension is caused due to lung or heart problems, doctors prescribe anticoagulants to prevent clots in the arteries.
  • Medicines like vasodilators can help in widening the blood vessels. The widened blood vessels mean an increased surface area which results in a lowering of the blood circulation rate.
  • Oxygen therapy - oxygen therapy helps you in overcoming the breathing issues which you might get while suffering from pulmonary hypertension.
  • Self-care -Adopting a healthy lifestyle like taking breaks from work, eating healthy foods, and avoiding junk can help you take care of your heart.
  • Physical Exercises - Cardio and aerobic exercises for 30 minutes 5-6 days a week, can help keep you away from pulmonary hypertension.
  • There are several other treatments that can help reduce blood pressure in the lungs and relax arteries. 
  • In severe cases of pulmonary hypertension, surgeries may be performed. The surgery can be for removing the old clots. 
  • Balloon pulmonary angioplasty to push the blockage aside.

What are the risk factors for pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is a high blood pressure disease that affects the heart's arteries and the right side. The heart has to work harder to pump blood through the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension causes the heart to put in extra effort and eventually causes the heart muscles to become weak and fail. 

Several risk factors have been the reason for the development of pulmonary hypertension.

  • Age: It is often diagnosed in people aged from 30 to 60 years. Growing old can increase the risk of developing pulmonary hypertension. 
  • Family history: Two or more members in the family have pulmonary hypertension, or a family member is known to have genes associated with pulmonary hypertension. They are more likely to suffer from this disease. There is a lot of genetic counseling available to discuss these issues.
  • Gender: Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension and heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension are two and half times more common in women than men. females who are of childbearing age are also diagnosed with this disease
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy is a possible risk factor that experts suggest. Women suffering from pulmonary hypertension are at higher risk of mortality. 
  • Other diseases: Other diseases like cognitive heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, or any connective tissue disorder like lupus can lead to the development of pulmonary hypertension.

Is there a cure/medications for pulmonary hypertension?

Although there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, medication and a few treatments can help alleviate symptoms, prevent complications, and slow the progression of the disease. 

  • The most commonly prescribed medication for pulmonary hypertension is vasodilators. A vasodilator is the type of medicine that relaxes and opens narrowed blood vessels, improving blood flow. Vasodilators can be taken by mouth, inhalation, injected, or given by an IV fusion. The commonly prescribed vasodilator for pulmonary hypertension is epoprostenol. 
  • Medications like endothelin receptor antagonists traverse the effect of a substance In The Wall of blood vessels which causes them to narrow. 
  • Blood thinners like warfarin are prescribed to prevent blood clots. Blood thinners increase the risk of bleeding, especially in those who have surgery or invasive procedures. If you take blood thinners, occasional blood tests should be carried out to check if the medicine is working or not.
  • Atrial septostomy is an open-heart procedure recommended if medications cannot control pulmonary hypertension signs or symptoms. In this surgery, the surgeon creates an opening between the heart's upper left and right chambers to relieve pressure on the right side.
  • A lung or heart transplant, sometimes a more extended heart-lung transplant, can be recommended, especially for younger people with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.

List of conditions 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Narrowed blood vessels which slows down the blood circulation 
  • The artries are swollen and slows down the blood flow

Symptoms for pulmonary hypertension are:

  • Blue lips
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Pounding heartbeat 
  • Fatigue 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Swelling in the ankle and abdomen area 

The drugs prescribed are 

  • Endothelin 
  • Guanylate cyclase stimulators 
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5)

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