What is pulmonary hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension (PH or PHTN) is a condition of increased blood pressure within the arteries of the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, syncope, tiredness, chest pain, swelling of the legs, and a fast heartbeat. The condition may make it difficult to exercise. Onset is typically gradual.
The cause is often unknown. Risk factors include a family history, prior blood clots in the lungs, HIV/AIDS, sickle cell disease, cocaine use, COPD, sleep apnea, living at high altitudes, and problems with the mitral valve. The underlying mechanism typically involves inflammation of the arteries in the lungs. Diagnosis involves first ruling out other potential causes.
There is no cure. Treatment depends on the type of disease.A number of supportive measures such as oxygen therapy, diuretics, and medications to inhibit clotting may be used.Medications specifically for the condition include epoprostenol, treprostinil, iloprost, bosentan, ambrisentan, macitentan, and sildenafil. A lung transplant may be an option in certain cases.
While the exact frequency of the condition is unknown, it is estimated that about 1,000 new cases occur a year in the United States. Females are more often affected than males.Onset is typically between 20 and 60 years of age.It was first identified by Ernst von Romberg in 1891.
Treatment of pulmonary hypertension is determined by whether the PH is arterial, venous, hypoxic, thromboembolic, or miscellaneous. If it is caused by left heart disease, the treatment is to optimize left ventricular function by the use of medication or to repair/replace the mitral valve or aortic valve.Patients with left heart failure or hypoxemic lung diseases (groups II or III pulmonary hypertension) should not routinely be treated with vasoactive agents including prostanoids, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, or endothelin antagonists, as these are approved for the different condition called primary pulmonary arterial hypertension. To make the distinction, doctors at a minimum will conduct cardiac catheterization of the right heart, echocardiography, chest CT, a six-minute walk test, and pulmonary function testing. Using treatments for other kinds of pulmonary hypertension in patients with these conditions can harm the patient and wastes substantial medical resources.
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