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Arun Jayakaran
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Pulmonary Hypertension

Published on 5/30/2012
For additional information  Click Here

Pulmonary hypertension is defined as –‘Abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs’. It makes the right side of the heart have to work at a much higher rate to pump the blood. We shall now focus on the Pulmonary Artery and its function. This artery carries deoxygenated blood to the lung for purification, which in turn gets enriched and is distributed to the various parts of the body through the left side of the heart. The right ventricle pumps the blood through the Pulmonary artery to the lungs, but due to some retardation the ventricle needs to work harder to pump the blood causing it to get dilated. Pulmonary hypertension may be caused by: • Certain diseases that damage the lungs, such as scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis • Blood clots in the lung- pulmonary embolism • Congestive heart failure • Heart valve disease • HIV infection • Low oxygen levels in the blood for a long time (chronic) • Lung disease, such as COPD or pulmonary fibrosis • Medicines (for example, certain diet drugs) • Obstructive sleep apnea In many cases the cause is unknown. There are two types, Primary & Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension. Primary is rare and affects women more than men. Secondary type is caused by a known medicine or medical condition. Symptoms Shortness of breath or fainting spells during activity is often the first symptom. Other symptoms include: • Ankle and leg swelling • Bluish color of the lips or skin (cyanosis) • Chest pain, Fatigue & Weakness People with pulmonary hypertension often have symptoms that come and go. They report good and bad days. Treatment There is no known cure for pulmonary hypertension. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and prevent more lung damage. It is important to treat medical disorders that cause pulmonary hypertension, such as obstructive sleep apnea, lung conditions, and heart valve disorders. Many new treatment options for pulmonary arterial hypertension and other forms of pulmonary arterial hypertension are becoming available. Your doctor will decide which medicine is best for you. You will be closely monitored during treatment to watch for side effects and to see how well you are responding to the medication. Never stop taking medicines without talking to your doctor. Some patients are put on blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots in leg veins and lung arteries. People with low oxygen levels in the blood may need oxygen therapy at home. As the illness gets worse, you will need to make changes in your home and get more help around the house. Other important tips to follow: • Avoid pregnancy • Avoid heavy physical activities and lifting • Avoid traveling to high altitudes • Keep up-to-date with yearly flu vaccinations • Stop smoking If treatment with medicine does not work, a lung or heart-lung transplant may help some people. Prognosis The long-term outlook has been poor, but new treatments may lead to better results. Some people with this condition may have heart failure that could lead to death. It is not a good idea to get pregnant if you have this condition. Most patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension are treated at centers that specialize in the care of these patients.
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