Pulmonary Hypertension: Causes, Symptoms & Management

 

Pulmonary Hypertension


Pulmonary hypertension refers to a condition that is characterized by a high blood pressure within the lung arteries. This increased pressure can lead to damage in the right side of the heart, which may result in heart failure if not properly managed. For expert insights on this issue, refer to DocTube.


Pulmonary Hypertension Causes

Some of the most common causes of pulmonary hypertension include high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs due to some kinds of congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, connective tissue disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, blood clots in the lungs as well as chronic lung diseases like emphysema (Pugh, M.E., Sivarajan, L., Wang, L., Robbins, I.M., Newman, J.H. and Hemnes, A.R., 2014. Causes of pulmonary hypertension in the elderly. Chest, 146(1), pp.159-166). On the other hand, genetics also has an important role in play in increasing the risk of pulmonary hypertension in patients. It also happens in associated with lung disease, heart disease as well as many other diseases. Heart failure is quite common in pulmonary hypertension. It is important to note that pulmonary hypertension can happen across all ages, including children and the incidence may increase with age. It is more common among women and in the elderly population aged 75 or older.


Pulmonary Hypertension Symptoms  

The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Early stages of pulmonary hypertension may not present noticeable symptoms and as the disease progresses, symptoms may become more pronounced. Common symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include:

1) Shortness of Breath

This is often one of the earliest and most common symptoms. Individuals may experience shortness of breath during routine activities or even at rest. Watch DocTube to get further insights on pulmonary hypertension. 

2) Fatigue

Persistent tiredness and a lack of energy are common symptoms (Mandel, J. and Poch, D., 2013. Pulmonary Hypertension. Annals of Internal Medicine, 158(9), pp.ITC5-1). The increased effort required by the heart to pump blood against higher pulmonary artery pressure can contribute to fatigue.

3) Chest Pain or Discomfort

Some individuals with pulmonary hypertension may experience chest pain or discomfort, particularly during physical activity.

4) Dizziness or Lightheadedness

Reduced blood flow to the brain can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness.

5) Swelling

Fluid retention, leading to swelling in the ankles, legs or abdomen may occur.

6) Bluish Lips or Skin

In more severe cases, inadequate oxygen levels in the blood can lead to bluish discoloration of the lips or skin (Rose-Jones, L.J. and V Mclaughlin, V., 2015. Pulmonary hypertension: types and treatments. Current cardiology reviews, 11(1), pp.73-79).

7) Rapid Heartbeat

The heart may beat faster than normal as it works harder to pump blood through the narrowed pulmonary arteries.

8) Cough or Wheezing

Some individuals may experience a persistent cough or wheezing, which may be a result of fluid buildup in the lungs.


However, these symptoms can be indicative of various medical conditions, and not everyone with pulmonary hypertension will experience all of these symptoms. On the other hand, some individuals may not have noticeable symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly. It is therefore crucial to seek prompt medical attention whenever these symptoms are experienced.


Pulmonary Hypertension Management

The management of pulmonary hypertension involves a multidisciplinary approach and is tailored to the specific underlying cause and severity of the condition. It typically includes a combination of lifestyle modifications, medication and in some cases, surgical or interventional procedures. Some key aspects of pulmonary hypertension management may be identified as the following:

1) Underlying Cause Treatment

If the pulmonary hypertension is secondary to another condition such as heart or lung disease, addressing the underlying cause is crucial. Managing conditions like heart failure, chronic lung disease or sleep apnea can help alleviate pulmonary hypertension.

2) Medications

i) Vasodilators

Some medications help dilate the pulmonary arteries, thereby reducing pressure. 

ii) Anticoagulants

In cases of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, anticoagulant therapy may be prescribed to prevent blood clots.

iii) Diuretics

These medications help manage fluid retention and swelling (Grady, D., Weiss, M., Hernandez-Sanchez, J. and Pepke-Zaba, J., 2017. Medication and patient factors associated with adherence to pulmonary hypertension targeted therapies. Pulmonary circulation, 8(1), p.2045893217743616).

iv) Oxygen Therapy

Supplemental oxygen can be beneficial for individuals with low blood oxygen levels.


3) Lifestyle Modifications

i) Exercise

Regular, moderate exercise as recommended by a healthcare provider can help improve overall cardiovascular health.

ii) Diet

A heart-healthy diet, low in salt and saturated fats can support overall cardiovascular health (Alsinani, T.S., Abdullah, A.A., Alghamdi, T.A., Alsaigh, S.A.S., Alanazi, M.D., Alkahtani, M.A., Alzahrani, T.A. and Alabdrabalrasol, E.A., 2018. Lifestyle modifications for hypertension management. The Egyptian journal of hospital medicine, 70(12), pp.2152-2156).


iii) Fluid Restriction

In cases of fluid retention, healthcare providers may recommend restricting fluid intake.


iv) Monitoring and Follow-up

Regular monitoring of symptoms and follow-up appointments with healthcare providers are essential to assess the effectiveness of treatment and make adjustments as needed.


4) Surgery and Procedures

i) Balloon Atrial Septostomy

In some cases, a procedure known as balloon atrial septostomy may be performed to create a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart, relieving pressure (Kerstein, D., Levy, P.S., Hsu, D.T., Hordof, A.J., Gersony, W.M. and Barst, R.J., 1995. Blade balloon atrial septostomy in patients with severe primary pulmonary hypertension. Circulation, 91(7), pp.2028-2035).

ii) Lung Transplantation

For severe cases of pulmonary hypertension that do not respond to other treatments, lung transplantation may be considered.


 5) Supportive Therapies

i) Pulmonary Rehabilitation

This program may include education, exercise and emotional support to improve overall well-being (Talwar, A., Sahni, S., Verma, S., Khan, S.Z., Dhar, S. and Kohn, N., 2017. Exercise tolerance improves after pulmonary rehabilitation in pulmonary hypertension patients. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 13(2), p.214).

ii) Psychological Support

Dealing with a chronic condition can be challenging, and psychological support can be beneficial for patients and their families.


It is important for individuals with pulmonary hypertension to work closely with a healthcare team, including pulmonologists, cardiologists and other specialists to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Treatment approaches may vary based on the specific type and cause of pulmonary hypertension as well as individual patient factors. Regular communication with healthcare providers and adherence to the prescribed treatment plan are crucial for managing pulmonary hypertension effectively. To get further information on this issue, watch DocTube.


FAQ

  Is pulmonary hypertension curable?  
   

Pulmonary hypertension cannot be cured. However, treatments are availbale to reduce its symptoms and help patients to manage their condition well. When the cause is identified and treated early, it may often be possible to prevent permanent damage to the pulmonary arteries.

 
  Which foods to avoid if a person suffers from pulmonary hypertension?  
   

When a person suffers from pulmonary hypertension, it is crucial for him to avoid canned foods, pickled foods, frozen food, processed foods, cheese and certain seasonings.

 

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