Pulmonary Hypertension: What It Is, How It Affects You, Treatments

Jun 21 2018

Pulmonary Hypertension: What It Is, How It Affects You, Treatments

Pulmonary hypertension is a very serious disease. It is one type of high blood pressure that constricts the arteries in your lungs and on the right side of your heart. The tiny arteries in your lungs get narrow, blocked, or destroyed. This makes it harder for blood to flow through your lungs, and consequently raises pressure within the lungs’ arteries. As this pressure builds, your heart’s lower right chamber must work harder to pump blood through your lungs. Eventually this makes your heart muscle weaken and fail.

Some forms of pulmonary hypertension become progressively worse and are sometimes fatal. Although, in general, this disease is not curable,  treatment can help lessen symptoms and improve your quality of life.
pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary Hypertension: Symptoms

The symptoms in its early stages might not be noticeable for months or even years. As the disease progresses, symptoms become worse.

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, noticeable while exercising and eventually while at rest
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Swelling in your ankles, legs and eventually in your stomach
  • Bluish color to your lips and skin
  • Racing pulse or heart palpitations


Pulmonary Hypertension: Treatments

This disease can not be cured, only managed. Treatments can help improve symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

Current treatments require extensive follow-up care. Several drugs are currently used and are effective. Here is a listing:

  • Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators). Vasodilators open narrowed blood vessels. One of the most commonly prescribed drug in this class is for Veletri. It  is continuously injected through an intravenous (IV) catheter via a small pump that you wear in a pack on your belt or shoulder.
  • Endothelin antagonists. These medications reverse the effect of endothelin, a substance in the walls of blood vessels that causes them to narrow. These drugs can improve energy levels and symptoms. However, these drugs shouldn’t be taken if you’re pregnant. A side affect is possible liver damage.
  • Viagra and Cialis. Viagra and Cialis are sometimes used to treat pulmonary hypertension. These drugs work by opening the blood vessels in the lungs to allow blood to flow through more easily. Side effects can include an upset stomach, headache and vision problems.
  • High-dose calcium channel blockers. These drugs help relax the muscles in the walls of your blood vessels. They include medications such as Norvasc and Procardia. Although calcium channel blockers can be effective, only a small number of people respond to them.
  • Anticoagulants. The anticoagulants Coumadin and Jantoven help prevent the formation of blood clots within the small pulmonary arteries. Because anticoagulants prevent normal blood coagulation, they increase your risk of bleeding complications.
  • Diuretics. Commonly known as water pills, these medications help eliminate excess fluid from your body. This reduces the amount of work your heart has to do. They may also be used to limit fluid buildup in your lungs.


Pulmonary Hypertension: Oxygen

Breathing pure oxygen, also referred to as oxygen therapy, can be effective for people living at high altitudes or suffering from sleep apnea.


Pulmonary Hypertension: Skilled Nursing Care

The Grand Healthcare Center offers skilled treatment for pulmonary hypertension and care services across all of our health facilities.

Give us a call (718 215-6000) to arrange a tour of our facilities.

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Barry G

Barry graduated from City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology.

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