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Pulmonary Hypertension

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries of your lungs. This may also be called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

These arteries carry blood from the heart to the lungs, where the blood picks up oxygen. The walls of the arteries may get thick, which narrows the space inside the arteries. When this happens, blood does not flow as well as it should. Pressure builds up in the arteries. Then your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your lungs.

Pulmonary hypertension may cause heart failure. Heart failure means that your heart doesn't pump as much blood as your body needs.

It can be stressful to learn that you have a problem with your lungs and heart. But there are things you can do to feel better and stay as active as you can.

What are the symptoms?

At first, you may not notice any problems. But in time, you may have symptoms such as:

What causes this condition?

There are several types of pulmonary hypertension with different causes. For example, it may be caused by:

How is it diagnosed?

It can be hard to diagnose pulmonary hypertension, because many other conditions can cause the same symptoms. If your doctor thinks you have it, you may have tests such as:

You may also have a cardiac catheterization. This test can check the blood pressure in the lung arteries. For this test, a doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the heart through a blood vessel.

Your doctor may do other tests to look for what's causing the high blood pressure in your lungs.

How is it treated?

Treatment can help you feel better and live longer. It may take some time to find the treatments that work best for you.

Your treatment options will depend on the type of pulmonary hypertension you have and how severe it is. If the cause was found, your doctor will give you treatment for that condition. You may be given special medicines to treat the high blood pressure in your lungs. These medicines work in different ways to help ease your heart's workload.

Other treatments that may be prescribed include:

Your doctor may suggest pulmonary rehab. This is a program that provides education and support for people with lung disease. It can teach you ways to do your daily activities that save your energy as much as possible. It can also connect you with people who can help as you adjust to this disease.

Surgery, such as a heart or lung transplant, may be an option for some people.

What can you do at home?

Pulmonary hypertension may be hard to live with. But with time and patience, you can learn to cope with this condition. Taking an active role in your treatment can help you feel better and live the life you want.

Make the most of your energy

Stay as healthy as you can

Manage your medicines

Cope with your emotions

Having this disease can be stressful. You may feel depressed that you can't do some of the things you used to do. You may worry about your future. And symptoms such as shortness of breath can make this anxiety worse. It may help to:

Don't get pregnant

If you're a woman of childbearing age, talk to your doctor about preventing pregnancy. Pregnancy and childbirth can cause changes in the body that could be life-threatening for women who have this condition.


Credits for Pulmonary Hypertension

Current as of: August 31, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology


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