Woman with chest pain

Pulmonary hypertension is a complex disease that means high blood pressure in the lungs instead of the heart. In pulmonary hypertension, the blood vessels in the lungs can get stiff, damaged or even narrow. Because of this, the right side of the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body.

It is very important for patients with pulmonary hypertension to work with providers who specialize in this disease, such as the pulmonary specialists at the Lung Center at UM BWMC. It is critical for the specialists to find out what caused the pulmonary hypertension and develop the right treatment plan as soon as possible. The good news is that people with pulmonary hypertension can live many years once they are in the care of a team of specialists.

What Is Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs’ arteries, which may be caused by:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Connective tissue disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease (cirrhosis)
  • Blood clots to the lungs
  • Chronic lung diseases like emphysema
  • Genetics

Pulmonary hypertension can happen at any age, including children, but is more common as people age. It is more common among women, non-Hispanic Black people and people age 75 and older.

Heart failure is common in pulmonary hypertension as well as lung disease.

Pulmonary Hypertension Symptoms

Initially, symptoms are similar to many other diseases and include difficulty breathing and fatigue. As a result, diagnosis is often delayed until more severe symptoms occur, like dizziness, chest pain, ankle swelling or heart palpitations (heart racing or pounding).

Pulmonary Hypertension Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, but there are many treatments available. Some treatments include inhaled medicine, intravenous medication, diuretics (medicine to reduce swelling in the feet) and oxygen therapy.