Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine

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Pulmonary Hypertension 

Pulmonary Hypertension is a condition in which there is high pressure in the pulmonary arteries. “Pulmonary” refers to lungs and “Hypertension” refers to the high pressure in the blood vessels.

Pulmonary Hypertension can be difficult to diagnose and it can be complicated to treat.

The circulation of the blood in the lungs usually encounters only 1/5 of the resistance that circulating blood encounters in the rest of the body. The vessels of the lungs are not used to increases in pressure and as a result, they respond in complex ways.

The walls of the blood vessels that bring blood to the lungs become thicker and constrict. This causes a narrowing inside the blood vessel, making it hard for the vessel to carry as much blood. As this narrowing worsens and the pressure increases, the blood backs up to the heart. The heart has to work even harder to pump blood through and out to the rest of the body.

If the heart is not able to pump out as much blood to the body, the person develops symptoms.  Blood carries oxygen and some of the common symptoms are caused by low circulating oxygen levels.

Pulmonary Hypertension can start in the lungs themselves, or it can be caused by other diseases.  
 

 Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Swollen legs and ankles
  • Syncope (Fainting) 
     

 How is Pulmonary Hypertension Diagnosed

  • Patient History
  • Risk Factors
  • Physical Exam
  • EKG
  • Chest X-Ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Pulmonary Function Testing
  • CT scan of chest
  • Ventilation/Perfusion (V/Q) Scan
  • Sleep Studies
  • Labs
  • Right Heart Catheterization 
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Page Updated 08/01/2014