Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. It is most common in adults ages 30 to 60 but has been seen in teenagers. Some types are incurable but treatment for pulmonary hypertension in Sun City West AZ can reduce symptoms and drastically improve quality of life.
There are 5 types of PH with a number of variable causes. These include certain drug use or illegal substance use, heart problems at birth, certain infections or diseases, sleep apnea, prolonged exposure to high altitudes, tumors or it could be a genetic mutation. It is important to work with a health professional to identify what type of PH you have so that the correct treatment can applied.
One rare type of PH is pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). In this case blood arteries in the lungs are restricted, obstructed, or damaged in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Due to the injury, blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs increases and blood flow through the lungs is slowed. Blood must be pumped through the lungs more forcefully by the heart. The heart eventually grows bigger and loses flexibility from the added strain, making it harder for the heart to pump blood through the lungs and into the rest of the body.
According to lung.org, PAH is a rare condition with only 200-1000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. Among those that are diagnosed, 15 -20% have inherited the condition. Further studies are continually being done to learn all we can about PH and its subtypes. Clinical trials are ongoing at the American Lung Association, CenterWatch Clinical Trial Research Center, ClinicalTrtials.gov, and ResearchMatch. These trials provide the information doctors need to provide patients with the more effective treatments.
Other types of PH are divided into groups. Group 1 is PAH that we have already discussed. Group 2 is caused by left-sided heart disease due to heart failure or valve disease. Group 3 include types of PH that are a result of a condition that causes the blood oxygen to be low (hypoxemia). Emphysema, COPD, Pulmonary fibrosis, obstructive sleep apnea or chronic high-altitude exposure. Group 4 is known as Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension and is the result of blood clots in the lungs that restrict blood flow. The final group, group 5, is more of a catch all for PH that results from any other problems with the metabolism, blood or other body system issues.
Symptoms and Treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension
What can be most troublesome about PH is that it is hard to diagnose. The signs and symptoms come on slowly, worsening as the disease progresses. One might not notice any problems for months or even years. Signs and symptoms to watch for include:
- Fast pulse or pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
- Chest pressure or pain
- Blue lips and skin (cyanosis)
- Dizziness or fainting spells (syncope)
- Coughing and wheezing
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea), initially while exercising and eventually while at rest
- Swelling (edema) in the ankles, legs and eventually the belly area (abdomen)
As PH progresses, certain complications can arise. The most worrisome is right-side enlargement and ultimately heart failure. Others include bleeding in the lungs, irregular heartbeats, blood clots, and pregnancy complications.
Medical professionals have numerous options to test for and diagnose PH. Blood tests, chest x-ray, echocardiogram, right heart catheterization, computerized tomography (CT), MRI, lung function test, sleep study, are just a few of those options. If there is family history of PH your doctor may recommend genetic testing to screen for genes linked to the disease.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to work with your medical professional to determine what type of PH you have so that you can begin the most beneficial treatment. One common treatment is the use of blood vessel dilators (vasodilators). These allow narrowed blood vessels to relax and open thus improving blood flow. These types of drugs can be delivered through IV, taken by mouth, injected or by nebulizer. Blood thinners, water pills and oxygen therapy are other treatments that may be recommended.
Knowing your family history and being aware of your own health is key in early identification of PH. If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned here, please reach out to your doctor to discuss your concerns. No one knows your body better than you do. And if you need further support, the American Lung Association recommends that patients and caregivers join its Living with Lung Disease support community. Copper Star Home Medical Supplies offers a wide range of oxygen and respiratory equipment that is available to rent. Or you can visit one of the locations to purchase the equipment you need to live your best life.