Pulmonary Hypertension

A Lung Problem: The “Other” High Blood Pressure

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare lung disorder but one that we diagnose and treat at the St.Vincent Heart Center. Twice as many women than men have this condition and it most often occurs in younger adults. Pulmonary hypertension is different from typical high blood pressure because the blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries rises above normal limits and strains the right ventricle of the heart. Physicians listen for abnormal heart sounds, like a loud valve sound, murmur or gallop. Left untreated, this condition can lead to right ventricle heart failure. It’s not unusual for St.Vincent Heart Center specialists (pulmonary hypertension, advanced heart failure and thoracic surgeons) to collaborate on the care plan. Aortic or mitral valve disease, left heart failure and congenital heart disease can contribute to pulmonary hypertension. This condition is also linked to past use of the diet drug “fen-phen” (now off the market), liver and lung diseases including blood clots in the large artery of the lung, obesity and sleep apnea.

Recognizing Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension

Out of Breath Exercising

Symptoms such as overwhelming fatigue, shortness of breath (even while sleeping), dizziness, leg swelling or fainting spells are not normal signs of aging or something to ignore. You may have a condition called pulmonary hypertension. If left untreated, pulmonary hypertension can lead to heart failure.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension can have a significant impact on your daily activities, so we want to work with you to find the best approach for managing your symptoms and maximizing your quality of life.

Diagnosing Pulmonary Hypertension

Think about pulmonary hypertension as the "other" high blood pressure. Only you can't detect this high blood pressure with a blood pressure cuff at the drug store, and, in its early stages, you may have very few noticeable symptoms. For these reasons, it often goes undiagnosed longer than it should. To test for pulmonary hypertension, you may need to have an echocardiogram, a CT scan or other tests.

Treating Pulmonary Hypertension

Your primary care physician or cardiologist may refer you to a pulmonary hypertension subspecialist at the St.Vincent Heart Center.  Our pulmonary hypertension subspecialists can help initiate and manage your therapy if you live nearby, or help coordinate your care near your home if you live far away.

At St.Vincent, we will suggest ways to relieve your symptoms and slow progression of your pulmonary hypertension. The recommended approach to your care may include a combination of lifestyle changes, medications, procedures and other promising therapies. In fact, all approved and investigational treatment options are available at St.Vincent.

St.Vincent Heart Center frequently has opportunities to enroll appropriate patients into clinical trials for innovative approaches to the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. Learn more about clinical trials.

Next Steps