What is Pulmonary Hypertension

What is Pulmonary Hypertension?
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Pulmonary hypertension is a disease of high blood pressure in the lungs that makes people feel short of breath. It is a complicated disease and there are several different types of pulmonary hypertension. Common symptoms to all types of pulmonary hypertension are: shortness of breath, especially with exertion (feeling out of shape without a reason for it), feeling lightheaded, chest pressure, palpitations, and/or swelling in the legs or abdomen. Some people may have shortness of breath when laying flat.

Although you may have been told that you have pulmonary hypertension based on an echocardiogram, CT scan, or even a chest x-ray, it is important to understand that pulmonary hypertension has a very specific definition, which requires performing many tests including a procedure called a right heart catheterization.

The definition, which was revised during the 6th World Symposium on Pulmonary Hypertension in 2018, is based on having a mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) on heart catheterization of greater than 20 mmHg. This means that the blood pressure in the arteries in the lungs is high.

The second part of the definition relates to why the pressure in the pulmonary arteries is high. One reason can be that the pulmonary arteries are too stiff (pulmonary vascular resistance > 3 Wood Units) Another reason may be that there is too much back-pressure from the left side of the heart into the pulmonary arteries (pulmonary capillary wedge pressure >15 mmHg). This definition is the same for infants >3 months old, children, and adults.

This section of the website will guide you through how pulmonary hypertension is diagnosed and different treatments.

This information is intended for educational purposes only and not to be used to change or direct medical care. This information should not replace direction by your treating care team and all medical management should be directed by your PH treating physician and your care team.
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