Pulmonary hypertension

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects arteries and blood vessels that supply the lungs, which narrows or even blocks them. It is a chronic and gradual disease in which the lung arteries, which supply blood from the heart to the lungs, do not work correctly, so the heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood, weakening the right ventricle. Over time, a weakened heart can cause heart failure, as well as arrhythmias, bleeding and other cardiovascular problems.

Although there are different types of pulmonary hypertension depending on the cause, it is a severe condition, and the symptoms start showing in the advanced stages of the disease. This highlights the importance of early diagnosis to control the condition and reduce potential damage.

Who is affected by pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension can be an inherited genetic disease, congenital, caused by the consumption of certain medicines or illegal drugs, previous cardiac or pulmonary conditions, chronic pulmonary thromboembolism, renal condition, and other diseases (HIV, chronic liver failure, connective tissue disorders...).

The most common pulmonary hypertension is idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), which usually affects individuals between 30 and 60 years old and is more frequent in women.

Pulmonary hypertension symptoms

Pulmonary hypertension symptoms can start to appear several years after having the condition, slowly and once the heart and lungs are already badly damaged. Furthermore, it is easy to confuse pulmonary hypertension with other respiratory illnesses, making it hard to diagnose.

The main signs of this disease are:

  • Dyspnea.
  • Chest pressure or pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Blue skin and lips (cyanosis).
  • Dizziness or fainting spells.
  • Swelling in the ankles, legs and belly area.
  • Fast pulse or pounding heartbeat.

Pulmonary hypertension treatment

Available treatments for pulmonary hypertension target the causes and try to reduce symptoms so that patients can enjoy a better quality of life since it is an incurable condition.

Common treatments include medicines to widen blood vessels, anticoagulants, diuretics, oxygen therapy and, for more severe cases, heart or lung transplant and surgery to reduce the pressure on the heart.

Oxygen therapy

It consists of administering oxygen at a higher concentration than it is found in the air (21 %) to treat hypoxia.
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Other respiratory illnesses

Obstructive sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder.
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Group of diseases that have an effect on the pulmonary interstitium.
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A disease that causes the obstruction of the airways.
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Cystic fibrosis

Chronic, hereditary and degenerative disease that causes thick mucus to build up in the lungs.
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Other respiratory conditions

Other respiratory illnesses: common cold, flu, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, allergies, rhinitis, etc.
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