Pulmonary hypertension is a rare but life-threatening condition that causes high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery. It is most often caused by other medical conditions, including COPD, asthma, pulmonary embolism, and more.
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Pulmonary Hypertension Causes
Pulmonary hypertension mainly occurs because of the narrowing of the arteries of the lungs because of which the flow of blood is restricted. In this kind of condition, blood cannot carry oxygen to your heart, and thus your heart gets adversely affected. The blood pressure of your body will get increased to a great extent if this situation remains untreated, thus leading to dreadful consequences, specifically situations like heart failure, serious pulmonary diseases, blood clots in lungs and congenial heart defects, etc.
There are certain forms of pulmonary hypertension, which are serious and worse with time, so much so that they are even fatal. It also includes forms that are non-curable; however, in order to improve the quality of life, symptoms can be reduced with proper treatment. The treatment for pulmonary hypertension is often complex, and it takes some time to find the most appropriate treatment and requires extensive follow-up care. Your doctor might also need to change your treatment if it’s no longer effective. However, when pulmonary hypertension is caused by another condition, your doctor will treat the underlying cause.
Pulmonary Hypertension Treatment
Pulmonary hypertension is a condition that causes high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery. It is most often caused by COPD, asthma, and pulmonary embolism. The causes of this condition are varied and complicated, however, as it is relatively rare. Patients with pulmonary hypertension may have no symptoms at all or they may experience shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, or chest pain.
Pulmonary hypertension is a serious medical condition that affects the lungs and heart. It can be diagnosed by measuring the pressure of blood through the arteries in the lungs. If it is found that there is an elevation in this pressure, then a treatment plan should be put into place. The most common treatments for pulmonary hypertension are medications and surgery.
Pulmonary Hypertension Blood Test
A pulmonary hypertension blood test can diagnose and monitor pulmonary hypertension, which is caused by high blood pressure in the arteries that leads from the heart to the lungs. The arteries can get narrowed or stretched, causing a buildup of pressure and oxygen loss.
These tests are used to assess the severity of pulmonary hypertension. It measures the amount of oxygen in the blood that is bound to hemoglobin, which is oxygen transportation in red blood cells.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel is the blood test that includes both the BMP (basic metabolic panel) and the LFTs (liver function tests). TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone) is a measure of the thyroid function. If the thyroid gland is not functioning well, then this may cause or worsen pulmonary hypertension.
Pulmonary Hypertension Medications
- Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators): Vasodilators open narrowed blood vessels. They are one of the most commonly prescribed vasodilators for pulmonary hypertension is epoprostenol (Flolan, Veletri). The drawback to epoprostenol is that the effect lasts only for a few minutes. This drug is continuously injected through an intravenous (IV) catheter via a small pump that you wear in a pack on your belt or shoulder.
- Ventavis: Another form of the drug, iloprost (Ventavis), can be inhaled six to nine times a day through a nebulizer, a machine that vaporizes your medication. Because it’s inhaled, it goes directly to the lungs.
- Treprostinil (Tyvaso, Remodulin, Orenitram): It is another form of the drug, which can be given four times a day and can be inhaled or can be taken as an oral medication and can also be administered through injection.
- Endothelin receptor antagonists: These medications reverse the effect of endothelin, a substance in the walls of blood vessels that causes them to narrow. These drugs may improve your energy level and symptoms. However, these drugs shouldn’t be taken if you’re pregnant. Also, these drugs can damage your liver and you may need monthly liver monitoring.
- Sildenafil and tadalafil: Sildenafil (Revatio, Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca) 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.
- High-dose calcium channel blockers: These drugs help relax the muscles in the walls of your blood vessels. They include medications, such as amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others), and nifedipine (Procardia, others). Although calcium channel blockers can be effective, only a few people with pulmonary hypertension respond to them.
- Soluble guanylate cyclase (SGC) stimulator: Soluble guanylate cyclase (SGC) stimulators (Adempas) interact with nitric oxide and help relax the pulmonary arteries and lower the pressure within the arteries. These medications should not be taken if you’re pregnant. They can sometimes cause dizziness or nausea.
- Anticoagulants: Your doctor is likely to prescribe the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) to 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. Take warfarin exactly as prescribed, because warfarin can cause severe side effects if taken incorrectly. If you’re taking warfarin, your doctor will ask you to have periodic blood tests to check how well the drug is working. Many other drugs, herbal supplements, and foods can interact with warfarin, so be sure your doctor knows all the medications you’re taking.
- Digoxin: Digoxin (Lanoxin) can help the heartbeat stronger and pump more blood. It can help control the heart rate if you experience arrhythmias.
- 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 limit fluid buildup in your lungs.
- Oxygen: Your doctor might suggest that you sometimes breathe pure oxygen, a treatment known as oxygen therapy, to help treat pulmonary hypertension, especially if you live at a high altitude or have sleep apnea. Some people who have pulmonary hypertension eventually require continuous oxygen therapy.
Pulmonary Hypertension Surgeries
- Atrial Septostomy: If medications don’t control your pulmonary hypertension, this open heart surgery might be an option. In an atrial septostomy, a surgeon will create an opening between the upper left and right chambers of your heart (atria) to relieve the pressure on the right side of your heart.
- Lung Transplantation: In some cases, a lung or heart-lung transplant might be an option, especially for younger people who have idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Pulmonary Hypertension Complications
- The complications need to be reduced by taking proper health care. A healthy diet needs to be taken regularly, along with proper medications. Smoking should be stopped and exercising sessions should be attended daily with no fail.
- Overweight or obesity needs to be controlled properly to reduce complications. Specialized caring strategies need to be maintained to avoid severe kinds of health complications that are quite annoying.
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