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Pulmonary hypertension is a serious chronic respiratory condition in which the arteries of the lungs and heart experience abnormally high blood pressure. The pressure causes the arteries in the lungs to constrict, resulting in reduced blood flow and less oxygen in the blood.

It often occurs in association with other diseases, such as COPD, lung disease or heart disease. While there is no cure, there are treatments that can improve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

The initial stages of the disease are similar to those of other medical conditions, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, heart palpitations and swelling in the ankles and legs.

It’s usually incurable and often progressive, worsening over time. However, proper treatment and lifestyle changes can slow the progression and improve symptoms.

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Questions & Answers

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare but potentially life-threatening respiratory condition. It occurs due to high blood pressure in the arteries of your lungs and the right side of your heart.

Pulmonary hypertension is a chronic condition that often gets worse over time. Even so, there are various treatments that can slow its progression, reduce side effects, and enhance your quality of life.

What are the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension?

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Blue lips or skin
  • Ankle swelling

As the condition gets worse, you might also experience a rapid pulse or pounding heartbeat.

What are the types of pulmonary hypertension?

At Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio, the team treats all five types of pulmonary hypertension, including:

  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)
  • Pulmonary hypertension caused by left-sided heart disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension caused by lung disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension caused by chronic blood clots
  • Pulmonary hypertension triggered by underlying health conditions

Anyone can experience pulmonary hypertension, but it’s typically diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60. Several factors may increase your risk of the condition, including weight issues, congenital heart disease, or living at a high altitude.

How is pulmonary hypertension diagnosed?

It’s difficult to diagnose pulmonary hypertension because the symptoms it presents are very similar to other conditions that affect the heart and lungs.

First, your Pulmonary Consultants of San Antonio provider reviews your health history and asks about your symptoms, including their severity and if any activities like exercise make them worse. Next, they conduct a physical exam, listening to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope.

Your provider also orders blood tests, chest X-rays, an electrocardiogram, and an echocardiogram. An electrocardiogram monitors the electrical activity of your heart while an echocardiogram uses ultrasound imaging to determine how well your heart valves work.

If your echocardiogram reveals pulmonary hypertension, your provider might also order right heart catheterization, a minimally invasive procedure that can confirm the diagnosis.

How is pulmonary hypertension treated?

Treatment of pulmonary hypertension usually includes a combination of healthy lifestyle changes, routine monitoring, and prescription medication. For example, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help support your heart and lungs.

Some of the drugs used to treat pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Blood vessel dilators
  • Guanylate cyclase (GSC) stimulators (drugs that reduce the pressure in your lungs)
  • High-dose calcium channel blockers
  • Warfarin (blood thinner and anticoagulant)
  • Digoxin (a drug that helps your heart pump more blood)
  • Diuretics

If medication and healthy lifestyle changes don’t ease your symptoms, surgical intervention might be necessary.

10007 Huebner Road, Bldg 4
San Antonio, TX 78240
FAX: 210-692-0151

Monday: 8am-4:30pm
Tuesday: 8am-4:30pm
Wednesday: 8am-4:30pm
Thursday: 8am-4:30pm
Friday: 8am-4:30pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed