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Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary vascular disease refers to any condition that affects the arteries that connect the heart and lungs.

One such condition is pulmonary hypertension. Hypertension means high blood pressure — pulmonary hypertension (also called pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH) is high blood pressure in the arteries connecting the heart and lungs. While the cause is unknown, your risk increases if you have lupus, HIV and certain other conditions, use cocaine or methamphetamine, or are a female between ages 30 and 60.

Ignoring pulmonary hypertension may make the problem worse. Left untreated, it may even result in death.

The Effects of Pulmonary Hypertension

If you have pulmonary hypertension, you may not notice it at first. Over time, it may cause you to experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Blue lips or fingers
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Racing or pounding heart rhythm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the feet and legs at first and then in the belly and neck

Common Treatments for Pulmonary Hypertension

If your doctor thinks you have pulmonary hypertension, you’ll undergo blood, imaging and exercise tests. Once it is clear that you have the condition, treatment begins.

Increased exercise and healthy eating habits are recommended to help manage pulmonary hypertension. Additionally, medications that thin your blood, lower your blood pressure and control the flow of blood can reduce symptoms. You may be put on oxygen if you have a hard time breathing.

Sometimes, surgery is necessary. The type of surgery used depends on your specific situation. One option involves a small hole being made in the heart. This increases blood flow between the left and right sides of the heart and reduces symptoms. Another option is having a tiny balloon inserted into the problematic artery. Once there, the balloon expands and allows blood to flow more easily. If a blood clot in the lung is causing pulmonary hypertension, the clot can be removed.

MultiCare’s experienced pulmonologists are skilled in diagnosing and treating pulmonary hypertension. They can also help diagnose and treat conditions that may lead to pulmonary hypertension.

Contact Us for More Information

MultiCare pulmonary and critical care specialists can provide you with diagnostic and therapeutic options to manage your respiratory health. Find a pulmonologist or contact the MultiCare Pulmonary Specialists clinic near you to learn more.