Related Lung Conditions
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a lung disease that occurs when the arteries carrying blood to the lungs are constricted, disrupting blood flow. Blood has to travel through the lungs to pick up oxygen that it can deliver to all of the organs, muscles and tissue throughout the body. But when the arteries between the heart and lungs becomes very narrow or the flow is constricted, the heart has to work double time to pump more blood to the lungs. This can eventually cause the heart to grow very weak, leading to more complications. There are even links between pulmonary hypertension and lung disease.
Understanding Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension can occur in association with many other diseases such as lung disease and heart disease. Some common underlying causes include pulmonary arterial hypertension from some types of congenital heart disease, connective tissue disease, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, blood clots to the lungs and chronic lung diseases like emphysema or chronic bronchitis. PH occurs at all ages of an individual and can increase incidence as you age.
The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension during the initial stage of disease are very similar to other medical conditions. This includes difficulty breathing, fatigue and some wheezing. As the disease progresses though, symptoms may include dizziness, a racing heartbeat, ankle swelling and chest pain.
There are three types of PH:
- Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH): associated with liver disease, AIDS, connective tissue disease and the diet drug “fen-phen.”
- Secondary PH: linked to problems such as heart disease or lung disease. Clots in the pulmonary blood vessels may also lead to secondary PH.
- Idiopathic PH: resulting diagnosis when the cause remains unknown.
Unfortunately, PH has no cure. However, research for new treatments is ongoing. The earlier PH is treated, the easier it is to control. Treatments include medicines, procedures, and other therapies. These treatments can relieve PH symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Lifestyle changes also can help control symptoms.
Pulmonary Hypertension and Lung Disease
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, mild-to-moderate pulmonary hypertension is a common complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and several other lung diseases. PH can cause these lung conditions to increase flare-ups and decrease the chance of survival in patients.
Pulmonary hypertension usually worsens during exercise, sleep and flare-ups. This condition combined with any form lung disease contributes to the body needing more blood to pass through an already doubly worked heart. Of course, more studies are needed to define the relationship with pulmonary hypertension and lung disease. If you are curious about PH and your lung disease, talk to your doctor today.