Patient's Complete Guide to Pulmonary Hypertension
Overview of Pulmonary Hypertension
ulmonary hypertension(پھیپھڑوں کا بیش فشار خون) is a condition in which the blood pressure is high in the arteries of the lungs. These arteries are the ones that supply the oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs. The name pulmonary hypertension is due to the lungs being involved in this disorder. This is a serious disorder that can severely damage the right sight of your heart.
Due to the constant high pressure of blood, the walls of the arteries become quite stiff and thick. This makes it harder for the arteries and the right side of the heart to pump the blood. This continuous strain weakens the heart which can cause heart failure or stroke.
Is Pulmonary Hypertension a Serious Disorder?
Pulmonary hypertension is a very rare disorder that can occur at any age. However, a person suffering from any lung or heart disorder is more prone to pulmonary hypertension. This disorder forces the right side of the heart to use more force, thus, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension
The signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension do not occur suddenly, rather it’s a progressive disease and develops slowly. When the disease progresses, the signs and symptoms get worse.
Signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include.
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Shortness of Breath
- Fainting or dizzy spells
- Pain and pressure on the chest (angina)
- Oedema or swelling (in your legs, ankles, and even in the abdomen
- Heart palpitations or racing pulse
- Bluish colour of the skin and lips
During exercise, these signs and symptoms get worse so a person has to limit the physical activities.
Types of Pulmonary Hypertension
Depending on the causes, pulmonary hypertension is divided into five major types.
- Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) - The main cause of this type of PAH is unknown, however, other possible causes are genetic mutations within a family, heart disease such a congenital heart disease by birth, narcotic drugs, connective tissue disorders. HIV infections and serious chronic liver diseases.
- Pulmonary Hypertension due to the left side of Heart Disease- This type of PAH is caused by the failure of the left ventricle of the heart and due to aortic valve or mitral valve disease.
- Pulmonary Hypertension due to Lung Diseases- It is caused by COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), living at high altitudes or longer exposure at high altitudes, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and pulmonary fibrosis.
- Pulmonary Hypertension due to Chronic Blood Clotting/ Blood Clots- It is caused generally by blood clotting within the body and by the pulmonary emboli which is a chronic blood clotting that occurs in the lungs.
- Pulmonary Hypertension due to Underlying Health Conditions- This type of PAH is caused by various health disorders such as inflammatory disorders, blood disorders, metabolic disorders, kidney issues and tumours that are in pulmonary arteries.
Causes of Pulmonary Hypertension
PAH is caused by the changes and damage to the pulmonary arteries.
This happens due to:
- Disorders that affect the left side of the heart
- Blood clots- Due to these blood clots the pulmonary arteries are narrowed or even blocked
- Problems and damage to the smaller branches of the PAH or pulmonary arteries
Risk Factors of Pulmonary Hypertension
Just like high blood pressure, PAH can severely affect people in the age group of 30-60. However, young adults are more prone to PAH. Other risk factors that increase your chances of having pulmonary hypertension are:
- Disorders related to blood clotting
- Family history of PAH
- Using certain drugs such as for weight loss
- Narcotic drugs such as meth, cocaine and heroin
- Living at a high altitude
- Asbestos exposure
- Genetic heart disease and disorder
- Use of the SSRIs (Serotonin reuptake inhibitors)- which is used to treat anxiety and depression
Complications Related to Pulmonary Hypertension (PAH)
Complications due to PAH include:
- Blood clots
- Pregnancy complications
- Bleedings in the lungs
- Enlargement of the right side of the heart
- Heart Failure
Your lifestyle modification can really help you in preventing and reducing the risk of pulmonary hypertension. Following are simple yet effective lifestyle changes that would help you avoid developing pulmonary hypertension.
- Healthy Diet- Adding fresh vegetables and fruits are a must in your diet. Opt for a diet plan with your healthcare provider regarding having foods that are rich in nutrients.
- Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight- Obesity and overweight increases your risk of having high BP and heart diseases. You need to maintain a healthy body weight. You can reach out to your healthcare provider for a personalized diet plan and exercises to maintain your body weight.
- Avoid Smoking- Smoking is a silent killer. Not only smoking increases your risk of high bp, pulmonary hypertension but also your risk of various heart illnesses. Quitting smoking will help you in so many ways.
- Be Active- As per various research, you need to do exercise at least 20 minutes a week. It is good to keep you healthy and fit.
- Get Enough Sleep- Getting enough sleep of about 8 hrs daily is good for your overall health. Adequate sleep keeps your blood vessels and heart healthy. Sleeping less can increase the risk of pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke and various heart diseases.
- Avoid drinking alcohol
Pulmonary Hypertension (PAH) is not easy to diagnose because PAH has similar symptoms as that of various lungs and heart disorders. But, if you are continuously suffering from breathlessness and fatigue, you should consult your general physician. The general physician would initially ask about your family health history, any medical health issues you are suffering from and even medications, if you are taking any.
If your general physician thinks that you are suffering from PAH, the doctor will recommend you to a cardiologist and further tests. The two major types of tests include “an echocardiogram” and even “right “heart catheterization” tests. You may also be required to have some other tests which may include:
- Blood tests, to particularly rule out diseases related to thyroid and liver
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- A (chest X-ray)
- Exercise test
- Lung Function Tests
- Ventilation-perfusion scan
Treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension | When to Consult a Doctor
PAH is difficult to cure, however, no need to worry, you can manage your condition by reducing your signs and symptoms as per your medical health officer instructions. Pulmonary hypertension gets serious if not treated on time and it can be life-threatening.
If a person is suffering from PAH, due to any other underlying health condition, then your doctors will first treat that disease or disorder. Opting for this step can help you prevent permanent damage to your pulmonary arteries.
Possible treatments and medications for curing pulmonary hypertension may include:
- Medicines that help in widening the blood vessels.
- Anticoagulant medicines help in preventing blood clots.
- Diuretic medicines- To remove the excess fluid that occurs due to the failure of the heart.
- Oxygen treatment to increase the level of oxygen in the blood.
If you are observing signs and symptoms that are concerning, you need to consult your doctor without a delay.