Pulmonary hypertension (PH) also known as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a serious progressive disease, in which there is elevated blood pressure in the arteries supplying the lungs. The blood flow from the heart to the lungs is disrupted due to constriction in blood vessels causing elevated pulmonary arterial pressure, thus increasing workload on heart muscles and eventually leading to weakness of heart muscles.
Causes and Symptoms of Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension can be idiopathic as well as have other secondary causes including autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and SLE, connective tissue diseases (scleroderma, CREST syndrome, lupus), liver diseases, congenital heart diseases (atrial and ventricular septal defects), sickle cell anemia, HIV infection and schistosomiasis (parasitic infection). It can also be caused due to diet pills (such as fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine) and recreational drugs too. It can also be caused by various lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis (interstitial lung diseases) and sleep apnea. In addition, it can be caused by clotting disorders such as pulmonary emboli. Heart failure, mitral valve disease and chronic systemic elevated blood pressure also lead to pulmonary hypertension. In addition, causes of pulmonary hypertension include polycythemia vera, thrombocythemia, thyroid diseases, glycogen storage disease, sarcoidosis, vasculitis, kidney diseases and tumors. Pulmonary hypertension is more common in females of 30 to 40 years of age.
The common symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include fatigue, difficulty breathing, dizziness, rapid breathing, exertional shortness of breath (dyspnea), chest pain, anxiety, lower extremity swelling, tachycardia, distention of jugular vein, ascites (fluid collection in the abdomen), clubbing of fingers and in severe cases it can also lead to heart failure.
How to Treat Pulmonary Hypertension Naturally?
The various natural remedies do not necessarily treat pulmonary hypertension, but only aid in proper functioning of heart and maintaining good quality of life. A person taking natural therapies should consult with their doctors before starting them. The various natural remedies taken for pulmonary hypertension include Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) that helps in lowering blood pressure. However, it is contraindicated in patients who are on anticoagulants. L-Carnitine aids heart health and improves endurance; however, it is contraindicated in patients on thyroid supplementation and anticoagulants. Potassium helps in heart contraction, magnesium helps in heart efficiency; however, doctor should be consulted before taking them. Vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants, which increases immunity and protect heart. In addition, taurine is also good for heart health and helps in lowering blood pressure, which also acts as a diuretic, so should be avoided when already taking a diuretic and/or lithium.
There are various herbs that can be taken in the form of capsules, powders, extracts, teas, and tinctures. There is lack of substantial research regarding their effectiveness for pulmonary hypertension, so a doctor should always be consulted when taking them. Hawthorn is touted to reduce heart failure symptoms, garlic helps in lowering blood pressure, linden and rosemary may aid in getting rid of excess fluid from the body, and danshen dilates blood vessels.
Homeopathic medicines are also helpful in pulmonary hypertension when they are taken along with conventional pulmonary hypertension medications. Acupuncture is also becoming popular and it can help in improving blood circulation.
In addition to these medicines lifestyle modification with food and exercise is advised such as eating foods that digest easily, avoiding milk and milk products, coffee, alcohol, stress, smoking cessation. Weight management is also required for optimal heart functioning. It is also advised to exercise daily and stay fit, but avoid strenuous exercises that might cause acute increase or decrease in blood pressure. Doctors also advise to rest, take proper sleep, and before traveling or going to high altitudes a doctor should be consulted.
Yoga is a great exercise for patients with pulmonary hypertension, which also helps in keeping a person healthy. Various breathing exercises or pranayam can be incorporated in exercise regimen such as anulom-vilom and kapalbhati. In addition to the breathing exercises, yoga asanas and meditation can also be incorporated for relaxation and stress relief.