The pulmonary arteries are responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood away from the heart. When there is higher blood pressure than usual, there is a resistance to the flow of blood through the vessels in the lungs. This in turn puts more strain on the heart, as it has to work harder to pump blood to the lungs. There are various symptoms that can occur as a result of this condition, including shortness of breath, tiredness, dizziness, chest pain or pressure and nausea.
PH is often misdiagnosed or diagnosed late, as the symptoms are often very similar to those of other respiratory illnesses, such emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma. The diagnosis becomes even more complicated in a person suffering from both asthma and PH. If you have severe asthma or respiratory problems, it is recommended that you see a doctor to check if you are in fact experiencing pulmonary hypertension.
Although the causes of both asthma and PH are unknown, there are certain risk factors for these conditions that indicate you should be extra vigilant when experiencing symptoms of respiratory distress. For PH, the risk factors include family history, obesity, pregnancy and living at a high altitude. You are also more likely to develop this condition if you already have heart disease, lung disease or a connective tissue disorder.
Although there is no cure for PH, there are treatments available to help manage it. These include inhaled, oral and even intravenous medication depending on the severity of the problem. The most typical treatment is calcium channel blockers (CCB), which are well tolerated and help the heart pump blood more efficiently by relaxing the muscles in the blood vessels. Other oral medications, such as tadalafil, sildenafil, ambrisentan, warfarin and treprostinil, may also help in reducing both blood pressure and risk of blood clots.
If spotted and managed in time, this condition may not cause any severe damage to the lungs or heart, but it is essential to make sure that it is diagnosed early and not mistaken for asthma. As no one knows what causes asthma or PH, it is impossible to advise how you can avoid developing these conditions. However, understanding the symptoms they bring, and the steps required for management, will help ensure a positive outlook.