What You Need to Know About the Management of Pulmonary Hypertension

Written By: Care New England on March 11, 2022

Pulmonary hypertension affects arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. It is a rare lung disorder presenting as an increase in blood pressure in the arteries leading to the lungs from the heart.

Pulmonary hypertension causes arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs to narrow, making it difficult to flow through the vessel. The result is high blood pressure, which causes straining of the right ventricle of the heart and could lead to heart failure. Pulmonary hypertension affects more women than men and can occur at any age.

Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension

Signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension mimic signs of many other conditions, leading to misdiagnosis or late diagnosis. Some people discover symptoms when the disease has progressed.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include;

  • Shortness of breath during activities or exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness and fainting spells
  • Swelling of legs, ankle
  • Bluish looking lips and skin
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat

Causes of Pulmonary Hypertension

The underlying cause of pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lung's arteries. In some cases, the cause of pulmonary hypertension is unknown. Other medical conditions that can cause pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Chronic Liver disease, rheumatic disorders, lung conditions
  • Certain heart diseases like aortic valve disease and congenital heart disease.
  • Low oxygen due to living in high altitude areas, obesity, and sleep apnea
  • Genetics

Risk Factors for Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension diagnosis happens mostly in people ages 30 to 60. Growing older increases your risk of developing pulmonary hypertension. Risk factors include;

  • Family history of pulmonary hypertension
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Being overweight
  • Having a blood clotting disorder
  • Being exposed to asbestos
  • Living in high altitude areas
  • Use particular weight loss medication and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors drugs to treat anxiety and depression.
  • Use of illegal drugs like cocaine

Diagnosis of Pulmonary Hypertension

Diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension will involve;

  • Providing your doctor a complete medical history
  • Giving a full description of your symptoms

If your doctor suspects you have pulmonary hypertension, they will then perform;

  • Full physical exams
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests like CT scan
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram

Management of Pulmonary Hypertension

Management of pulmonary hypertension will depend on your symptoms. If you have no symptoms, your doctor will monitor you closely.

There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension. Management of pulmonary hypertension will only help reduce symptoms and prevent the disease from getting worse. Here are some management options for pulmonary hypertension.


Treatment with medication focuses on treating the underlying conditions. Medicines are used as supportive therapy to manage severe pulmonary hypertension. These medicines include;

  • Anticoagulants which prevent blood clots from forming
  • Diuretics remove excess water from the body which develops due to heart failure.
  • Digoxin helps by strengthening your heart muscle contraction and slowing down your heart rate.
  • Calcium channel blockers like nifedipine
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors like sildenafil

Other treatment options are:

Surgical procedures: - your doctor may recommend surgery to manage your pulmonary hypertension or a transplant in severe cases.

Oxygen therapy involves inhaling pure and highly concentrated oxygen, which helps if you are having breathing challenges.

Make lifestyle changes like;

  • Quit smoking and stay active
  • Avoid stress
  • Eat healthy meals and manage your weight
  • Avoid going to or staying in high altitude areas
  • Avoid things that excessively reduce your blood pressure.

Pulmonary hypertension is a disease that can be hard to manage. Make sure you have a support system when dealing with this disease. You will also need to go for regular checkups so that your doctor can help improve your quality of life.

Learn more about pulmonary hypertension or book an appointment with our Pulmonary Medicine Team. 

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