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Pulmonary Hypertension

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jul 2022| Content last modified Jul 2022
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What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary refers to the lungs.

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in your lungs' arteries. Arteries are big blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to parts of your body. Your lungs' arteries are called the pulmonary arteries.

Pulmonary hypertension is an uncommon disorder. It's different from hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the arteries to the rest of the body. Hypertension is much more common than pulmonary hypertension.

  • In pulmonary hypertension, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your lungs

  • Pulmonary hypertension is usually caused by certain lung or heart problems and sometimes by certain drugs

  • Pulmonary hypertension makes you feel weak and short of breath

  • To tell if you have pulmonary hypertension, doctors will do a chest x-ray and ultrasound of your heart

  • Doctors treat the cause of your pulmonary hypertension and may give you medicine to open up your pulmonary arteries

What causes pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is often caused by:

Other causes include sickle cell disease and certain drugs, such as fenfluramine (and other related weight-loss drugs), amphetamines, cocaine, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Sometimes pulmonary hypertension is caused by an inherited problem.

Sometimes doctors don't know what causes a person's pulmonary hypertension.

What are the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension?

The main symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are:

  • Feeling weak and short of breath during mild activity

You may have mild chest discomfort and leg swelling.

How can doctors tell if I have pulmonary hypertension?

How do doctors treat pulmonary hypertension?

Doctors will treat the cause of your pulmonary hypertension and have you avoid things that can make it worse. For example, they will have you stop smoking and not travel to high-altitude areas, such as up in the mountains.

They may give you medicine such as:

  • Extra oxygen through prongs in your nose or a mask on your face

  • Medicine to open your pulmonary arteries

  • Water pills (diuretics)

  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners) to prevent blood clots in your lungs

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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