What is pulmonary hypertension disease?
Do you ever feel like your lungs are being crushed under the weight of a thousand suns? Okay, maybe not that intense. But if you’re experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness or chest pain, it might be something to worry about.
Pulmonary hypertension disease is one condition that can cause those pesky symptoms and make breathing more difficult than trying to inhale through a coffee straw.
Here’s an overview on what pulmonary hypertension disease is, what causes it and how it’s treated (spoiler alert: there’s no magic cure).
Understanding Pulmonary Hypertension Disease
Pulmonary hypertension disease is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs and right ventricle. This increase in pressure makes it harder for your heart to pump oxygenated blood from your lungs throughout the rest of your body.
It can happen when the tiny arteries in the lung become narrowed and damaged over time. And because these arteries are so small, even a slight change in their size has a big impact on how well they work.
Types Of Pulmonary Hypertension
There are lots of different types of pulmonary hypertension out there (lucky us). Here are some:
1. Group 1: Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
This type occurs when thickening or blockages occur within the walls or lining in small groups’ arteries that lead to increased resistance against blood flow by narrow space between them (Pretty exciting stuff.)
2. Group 2: Left Heart Disease
This happens when left-sided heart conditions put additional strain on those teeny-tiny vessels inside our lungs (I’m telling you; we sure do love small things)
3. Group 3: Lung Diseases And/Or Hypoxia
Another big word! This group consists mostly includes people with lung conditions or chronic low oxygen levels (yikes)
4. Group 4: Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension
This lucky (or unlucky) group consists of those who have had blood clots in their lung vessels that cause permanent damage and hypertension.
5. Group 5: Miscellaneous Causes
Pretty much everything else that doesn’t fit into the previous categories; which happen to include sickle cell disease, sarcoidosis or metabolic disorders( you name it).
How To Diagnose Pulmonary Hypertension Disease?
If your doctor suspects pulmonary hypertension disease, they may refer you to a specialist for further testing. The goal is to identify what’s causing the high pressure and how severe it is.
Some of these tests might sound scary some fun when played with words:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-rays
- Echocardiogram (a cardiac ultrasound)
- Exercise tests where doctors ask ‘Can you run around at full speed?’
- Right heart catheterization – pretty straightforward if I say so myself
Treating Pulmonary Hypertension Disease
Unfortunately, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all cure for pulmonary hypertension disease. Doctors usually aim to manage symptoms and slow down the progression of damage instead by using fun-sounding therapy options like:
These drugs are designed to dilate blood vessels in your lungs during specific ways preventing excessive thickening from occurring. Some possible medication includes: Alpha blockers or beta-blockers (Names straight outta a bond movie!)
Sounds easy enough, right? Medical oxygen can be delivered via face masks or nostril prongs to increase oxygen levels in your bloodstream when breathing becomes difficult.
You know what sounds more impressive than medical-grade equipment -inhalation therapies!
There are different types of inhalers most commonly known as lifesavers or quick relief inhalers for asthma but just like superheroes, some INHALE-thers are specific to hypertension!
If medication and oxygen supply aren’t doing a good job at avoiding damage progression, your doctor might consider surgery.
Some surgeries being used in repairing damaged lung arteries are:
- Pulmonary endarterectomy
- Lung transplant
Living With Pulmonary Hypertension Disease
Living with pulmonary hypertension disease may require the following lifestyle modifications:
(Slow down Gordon Ramsey)
Low-sodium diets can help control symptoms of fluid retention.
Judo-kicks aside; As per Doc’s order those who have mild pulmonary arterial hypertension must stay active. Cycling or Yoga exercises are great examples!
Rest And Relaxation.
Stress can exacerbate pulmonary hypertensive (no one want’s that!), maintaining a work-life balance is important.
I hope this guide has helped you gain an understanding of what exactly pulmonary hypertension disease is, how it affects us and possible treatments we may see.