Is Pulmonary Hypertension a Heart or Lung Disease?
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare lung disease, in which the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs become narrower than normal, making blood flow through the vessels more difficult. As a result, blood pressure in these arteries – called pulmonary hypertension- rises to much higher levels than normal. This abnormal high pressure places too much stress on the right ventricle of the heart, causing it to increase in size. Because it has too much work and has grown in size, the right ventricle weakens gradually and loses its ability to pump enough blood into the lungs. This can lead us to develop heart failure on the right side. Pulmonary hypertension occurs in individuals of any age, race, and ethnic origin, although it is much more common in young adults and in women than in men.
Scientists believe that the process begins with an injury to the layer of cells that cover the tiny blood vessels of the lungs. This injury, which occurs due to unknown causes, can originate changes in the way these cells relate to smooth muscle cells in the walls of the blood vessel. As a result, the smooth muscle contracts more than normal and narrows the blood vessel.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pulmonary Hypertension?
The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension usually occur when the condition has progressed. The first symptom of pulmonary hypertension is shortness of breath during physical exertion, such as climbing stairs. Fatigue, dizziness and fainting can also be symptoms. Edema in the ankles, abdomen or legs; blue skin and lips, and chest pain may occur when the effort of the heart increases. The symptoms vary in severity and a particular patient may not have all the symptoms.
In more advanced stages of the disease, even the smallest activity can produce some of the symptoms. Some Additional Symptoms May Include:
- An irregular heartbeat (palpitations or a strong throbbing sensation)
- Accelerated pulse
- Dizziness or fainting
- Progressive loss of breath during exercise or activities, and difficult breathing at rest.
Over time, it can be difficult to do any activity as the disease worsens. The following are some of the known causes of pulmonary hypertension:
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Liver Diseases, Rheumatic Disorders, And Diseases Of The Lungs: Pulmonary hypertension can also occur as a result of other medical conditions, such as chronic liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver; rheumatic disorders such as scleroderma or systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus); and diseases of the lungs including tumors, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis.
- Certain heart diseases: Including aortic valve disease, left sided heart failure, mitral valve disease.
- Thromboembolic disease: A blood clot in one of the large pulmonary arteries can result in the development of pulmonary hypertension.
- Low-oxygen diseases: Living in high altitudes, obesity, and sleep apnea can also lead to the development of pulmonary hypertension.
- Genetic predisposition: In a small number of cases pulmonary hypertension has been inherited. Knowing that someone in your family has had or has pulmonary hypertension should lead you to seek an early evaluation in case you feel any of the symptoms.
How is Pulmonary Hypertension Diagnosed?
A complete physical examination, a clinical history and a good description of your symptoms are necessary to be able to rule out other diseases and thus, the doctor can make the correct diagnosis. Some tests are required.
Pulmonary hypertension is a disease that involves an alteration in both pulmonary and cardiac levels, as explained above HP involves a high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, causing the right side of the heart to exert more than normal. Over time it will weaken too much, leading to heart failure, which can even cause death.
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