Pulmonary Hypertension: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


High blood pressure in the blood vessels supplies the lungs (pulmonary arteries).

It is a severe disease that can damage the right side of the heart. The walls of the pulmonary arteries become thick and stiff, and they can not expand as well to allow the blood to pass.

Reduced blood flow makes it harder for the right side of the heart to pump blood through the arteries. If the right side of your heart has to work continuously more strongly, it can gradually weaken. This can lead to heart failure.

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare condition that can affect people of all ages, but it is more common in people who have another heart or lung condition.

Facts to take into account

Pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high pressure in the pulmonary circulation.

The classification of primary and secondary pulmonary hypertension has been reclassified and is now based on the primary underlying disease or condition, symptoms, and treatment options for pulmonary hypertension. There are five classes or groups in this new classification system.


Pulmonary hypertension can not have an identifiable cause and is called idiopathic pulmonary hypertension (formerly called primary pulmonary hypertension).

Pulmonary hypertension can be caused by certain medications, diseases (scleroderma, dermatomyositis, systemic lupus), infections (HIV, schistosomiasis), liver disease, valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blood clots in the lungs, and hypertension Persistent pulmonary disease of the newborn.

The risk factors for pulmonary hypertension are hepatic insufficiency, chronic lung disease, blood coagulation disorders, and underlying diseases such as scleroderma, dermatomyositis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

The signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Difficulty breathing with effort.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fast breathing.
  • Rapid heart rate

Pulmonary hypertension is diagnosed by measuring pulmonary pressures by ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram) or right heart catheterization.

Treatment for pulmonary hypertension may include oxygen, diuretics, anticoagulants, medications that open the pulmonary arteries, and treatments for any underlying disease.

The prognosis and life expectancy of a person with pulmonary hypertension is improving as new treatment options are available; however, the prediction may depend on the underlying disease or condition causing pulmonary hypertension.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension

  1. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include:
  2. Difficulty breathing.
  3. Fatigue.
  4. The sensation of fainting or dizziness.
  5. Chest pain (angina)
  6. An accelerated heart rate (palpitations).
  7. Swelling (edema) in the legs, ankles, feet, or belly (abdomen).

Symptoms often worsen during exercise, limiting your ability to participate in physical activities.

If you have pulmonary hypertension, known as pulmonary arterial hypertension, you may not have any symptoms until the condition is well advanced.

When to see your family doctor

Consult your doctor if you have any symptoms of pulmonary hypertension. He will ask about your symptoms and medical history and may perform a physical examination.

Correctly diagnosing pulmonary hypertension can sometimes take time because its symptoms are similar to those of many other heart and lung conditions.

Tests you may have to include a cardiac scan called an echocardiogram, and right cardiac catheterization, where a thin, flexible tube is inserted into your pulmonary artery.

Causes of pulmonary hypertension.

  • Changes in the pulmonary arteries that lead to pulmonary hypertension can be caused by:
  • Problems with the smaller branches of the pulmonary arteries.
  • Conditions that affect the left side of the heart.
  • Lung diseases or shortage of oxygen in the body (hypoxia).
  • Blood clots cause narrowing or a blockage in the pulmonary arteries.

Treatment of pulmonary hypertension.

Pulmonary hypertension can not be cured, but treatment can reduce symptoms and help control your condition.

Pulmonary hypertension usually gets worse over time. If left untreated, it can cause heart failure, which can be fatal, so it is essential to start treatment as soon as possible.

If another condition is causing pulmonary hypertension, the underlying condition should be treated first. This can sometimes prevent the pulmonary arteries from being permanently damaged.

Treatments for pulmonary hypertension may include anticoagulant medications to reduce the ability to form clots and diuretics to eliminate excess fluid due to heart failure.

You can also be offered medications to widen blood vessels. Oxygen treatment at home can also be prescribed if the oxygen level in the blood is low.


The outlook for pulmonary hypertension varies depending on factors such as:

  • What is causing it
  • How quickly it is diagnosed.
  • How advanced are your symptoms?
  • If you have another underlying health condition.

The specialist in charge of your care will be able to give you more detailed information. Having pulmonary hypertension can affect your ability to carry out daily activities.

  • Eight signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension.

Many people with pulmonary hypertension may have no symptoms, especially if the disease is mild or early.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may include:

  • Shortness of breath that gets worse with activity.
  • Other common complaints are cough, fatigue, dizziness, and lethargy.

With the advancement of the condition and consequent right heart failure, the shortness of breath may worsen, and fluid retention in the body may increase (due to the inability of the heart to pump blood), resulting in swelling of the legs.

People can also complain of chest pain and angina.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension may have other manifestations depending on the underlying associated disease. For example, characteristic skin changes seen in scleroderma or signs of liver disease observed in pulmonary hypertension.

Signs of pulmonary hypertension may include

Rapid breathing, hypoxia (low level of oxygen in the blood), and swelling in the legs.

In severe pulmonary hypertension, the health professional may hear heart sounds louder when listening to the heart with a stethoscope (auscultation).

The doctor may also feel the elevation of the chest wall when the heart pumps, which may indicate an enlargement of the right side of the heart that suggests pulmonary hypertension (right ventricle).