The right side of the heart pumps blood through the lungs, where it picks up oxygen. Then, the blood returns to the left side of the heart, where it is pumped to the whole body.
When the small arteries (blood vessels) of the lung become narrowed, they cannot carry as much blood. When this happens, pressure builds up. This is called pulmonary hypertension.
The heart needs to work harder to force the blood through the vessels against this pressure. Over time, this causes the right side of the heart to become larger. Not enough blood flows to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
NCBI: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
About Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a life-changing illness, but although lifestyle changes may be necessary, many patients continue to lead fulfilling lives. Whether working, traveling or performing day-to-day tasks, PH patients benefit from the experience of thousands of other patients who have learned to manage their illness. Much of this knowledge is shared in PHA’s Patient's Survival Guide, a regularly updated and definitive resource for learning about and living with PH.
About PHA: We are a young organization that is changing the history of an illness. From simple beginnings — four women around a kitchen table in Florida in 1990 — PHA has evolved in size and complexity. While we have grown, PHA has stayed true to our roots and the vision and ingenuity of our founders. We continue to work every day to end isolation, provide education, involve our constituents in everything we do, and find a cure for pulmonary hypertension.
Pulmonary hypertension begins when tiny arteries in your lungs, called pulmonary arteries, and capillaries become narrowed, blocked or destroyed. This makes it harder for blood to flow through your lungs, which raises pressure within the arteries in your lungs. As the pressure builds, your heart's lower right chamber (right ventricle) must work harder to pump blood through your lungs, eventually causing your heart muscle to weaken and eventually fail completely.
The Mayo Clinic Online
In medicine, pulmonary hypertension (PH) is an increase in blood pressure in the pulmonary artery, pulmonary vein, or pulmonary capillaries, together known as the lung vasculature, leading to shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, and other symptoms, all of which are exacerbated by exertion. Pulmonary hypertension can be a severe disease with a markedly decreased exercise tolerance and heart failure. It was first identified by Dr. Ernst von Romberg in 1891. According to the most recent classification, it can be one of five different types: arterial, venous, hypoxic, thromboembolic or miscellaneous.
Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia
The right ventricle pumps blood returning from the body into the pulmonary arteries to the lungs to receive oxygen. The pressures in the lung arteries (pulmonary arteries) are normally significantly lower than the pressures in the systemic circulation. When pressure in the pulmonary circulation becomes abnormally elevated, it is referred to as pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary artery hypertension, or PAH.
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What Is Pulmonary Hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension (PULL-mun-ary HI-per-TEN-shun), or PH, is increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries. These arteries carry blood from your heart to your lungs to pick up oxygen.
PH causes symptoms such as shortness of breath during routine activity (for example, climbing two flights of stairs), tiredness, chest pain, and a racing heartbeat. As the condition worsens, its symptoms may limit all physical activity.
To understand PH, it helps to understand how your heart and lungs work. Your heart has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum.
Each side of your heart has an upper and lower chamber. The lower right chamber of your heart, the right ventricle (VEN-trih-kul), pumps blood to your pulmonary arteries. The blood then travels to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen.
The upper left chamber of your heart, the left atrium (AY-tree-um), receives the oxygen-rich blood from your lungs. The blood is then pumped into the lower left chamber of your heart, the left ventricle. From the left ventricle, the blood is pumped to the rest of your body through an artery called the aorta.
United States Department of Human Services - National Institutes of Health
Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs. It is a serious condition for which there are treatments but no cure. If you have it, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-poor blood from your heart to your lungs become hard and narrow. Your heart has to work harder to pump the blood through. Over time, your heart weakens and cannot do its job and you can develop heart failure.
There are two main kinds of pulmonary hypertension. One runs in families or appears for no known reason. The other kind is related to another condition, usually heart or lung disease.
Treating pulmonary hypertension involves treating the heart or lung disease, medicines, oxygen and sometimes lung transplantation.
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Pulmonary Hypertension: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Why do the pulmonary arteries narrow? Scientists believe that the process starts with injury to the layer of cells that line the small blood vessels of the lungs. This injury, which occurs for unknown reasons, may cause changes in the way these cells interact with the smooth muscle cells in the vessel wall. As a result, the smooth muscle contracts more than normal and narrows the vessel. What are the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension?
Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension do not usually occur until the condition has progressed. The first symptom of pulmonary hypertension is usually shortness of breath with everyday activities, such as climbing stairs. Fatigue, dizziness, and fainting spells also can be symptoms. Swelling in the ankles, abdomen or legs; bluish lips and skin, and chest pain may occur as strain on the heart increases. Symptoms range in severity and a given patient may not have all of the symptoms.
The Cleveland Clinic
The Mayo Clinic medical staff has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating people affected by pulmonary hypertension. Mayo Clinic is a leader among medical centers in the world in accurately diagnosing and successfully treating pulmonary hypertension. Mayo Clinic is also a world leader in research on new treatment approaches.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.
The Mayo Clinic
Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) defined as a mean pulmonary arterial (PA) pressure of greater than 25 mm Hg at rest or greater than 30 mm Hg during exercise, is characterized by a progressive and sustained increase in pulmonary vascular resistance that eventually leads to right ventricular (RV) failure. Pulmonary hypertension is a life-threatening condition if untreated; treatment success rates vary based on etiology.
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Contact Susan J. Keen,
RN, OCN at
CJW Med Center
email: Susan.Keen [at] hcahealthcare.com