Pulmonary hypertension is increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries, which are the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about pulmonary hypertension?
Definitely, Dr. Green. Pulmonary hypertension begins with inflammation and changes in the cells that line the pulmonary arteries. The walls of these arteries may tighten or stiffen, or blood clots may form in these arteries. These changes make it hard for the heart to push blood through the pulmonary arteries and into the lungs. As a result, the pressure in these arteries rises.
In addition, the heart has to work harder than normal, which can cause it to become strained and weak. When the heart becomes so weak that it can't pump enough blood to the lungs, it's a condition called heart failure. Heart failure is the most common cause of death in people who have pulmonary hypertension.
Common signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include:
- Shortness of breath during routine activity, such as climbing a flight of stairs
- Chest pain, and
- A racing heartbeat
Although there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, treatments and lifestyle changes can relieve symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Treatments may include medications, procedures, and other therapies, depending on the cause of the condition. Lifestyle changes may include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.