by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
Pulmonary arterial blood pressure is the force the right side of the heart needs to overcome to push blood to the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a higher pressure than normal. It will make it harder for the right side of the heart to pump blood.
If PH is left untreated it can lead to heart failure. The right side of the heart will no longer be able to pump enough blood. There are 5 different groups of PH.
PH happens when blood flow through the lungs becomes more difficult. Many things can affect blood flow such as:
These changes are often the result of other illness or health issues. Sometimes it is not clear why these changes happen. PH causes can also vary by type of PH:
Factors that may increase your chance of pulmonary hypertension include:
There may be no symptoms in early PH. It may take years until any appear. Common symptoms include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. You may also be asked about your family’s health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect PH based on your symptoms and exam.
Tests to confirm PH may include:
To look for the cause of PH, your doctor may also do 1 or more of the following:
To see how much PH has affected your physical activity, you doctor may order:
Treatment will depend on the cause and severity of PH. When possible, the cause of PH is treated. Treating the cause will treat the PH. Treatment that may help to manage any type of PH includes:
PH that has no known cause may need more care. Treatment can help to slow the progress of PH and growth of other problems. Options include:
Medicine can help to open blood vessels. This will ease pressure and improve blood flow. Some may also make it easier to be active and breathe. Options include:
A lung transplant may be needed if other care does not work. It is only considered after all other options are tried and PH has become severe.
Not all PH can be prevented. Managing related conditions may help. Other steps include:
American Heart Association
National Library of Medicine
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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Simonneau G, Gatzoulis MA, et al. Updated clinical classification of pulmonary hypertension. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Dec 24;62(25 Suppl):D34-41. Accessed September 21, 2018.
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Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 8/14/2020
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