Pulmonary hypertension refers to elevated blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs and the right side of the heart. It is a serious disease and is different than systemic hypertension, which affects the whole body and is comparatively minor. Pulmonary hypertension results in both a narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels that transport blood from the heart to the lungs. Early symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, pain in the upper right area of the abdomen, and a fast heartbeat. As the disease progresses, symptoms expand to include leg or ankle swelling, fainting or feeling lightheaded, and a bluish tinge to the lips or skin. This form of hypertension can be diagnosed with a series of specialized heart tests, including an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, and a chest CT or MRI. Blood tests, chest x-rays, sleep studies, and lung perfusion scans may also be useful in obtaining a diagnosis. While pulmonary hypertension cannot be cured, steps can be taken to control and improve symptoms. The following methods provide symptom management and an enhanced quality of life for pulmonary hypertension patients.
A transplant may prolong life and extend quality of life for patients who do not respond to conservative treatments. Both lung transplants and heart-lung transplants have been used for pulmonary hypertension patients. The majority of patients receive a double lung transplant. The survival rates following this procedure are seventy-nine percent at one year and fifty-five percent at five years post-surgery. Due to the complexity of the transplant as well as the lengthy recovery time associated with it, many patients will need specialist care at a medical facility for several months after the procedure. Organ recipients need to take daily anti-rejection medication to help their bodies accept the new lungs and reduce the risk of infection for the rest of their life. They also require frequent and careful monitoring for many years following the surgery.
Keep reading to learn about the next method of treating pulmonary hypertension.