Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a disorder for which there is no cure. A diagnosis of this condition is sobering to any patient who receives it. Experts organize the types of this condition according to their respective causes.
Pulmonary hypertension is a very particular type of high blood pressure. Patients who suffer from it experience elevated pressure in their pulmonary arteries, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Blood from an individual’s heart travels through these arteries to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen. Oxygen-laden blood then circulates through the body.
This kind of high blood pressure usually occurs in arteries located in the lungs and the right side of the patient’s heart, the Mayo Clinic reports. While some patients are born with stiff artery walls, others develop them due to changes over time in the cells in the arterial lining. As the condition progresses, it gets harder and harder for the individual’s heart to pump blood. Arterial pressure increases.
Among the most frequent symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are shortness of breath when performing everyday activities, fatigue, heart palpitations or a racing heartbeat, and pain in the chest. Also common are feeling lightheaded, having blue lips and skin, and experiencing swelling in the legs and ankles.
Pulmonary hypertension is a progressive disorder that in some cases proves fatal. The goal of all treatment is to reduce the symptoms and enhance the patient’s quality of life.
According to NHLBI, the World Health Organization divides pulmonary hypertension into five types according to the cause of the illness. While the pressure in a normal pulmonary artery measures around 15 mmHg while the patient is resting, in all types of PH, it’s greater than 25 mmHg at rest or 30 mmHG during physical activity.
Doctors often differentiate the disease associated with Group 1 as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). For the other four types, the condition is called pulmonary hypertension (PH). In cases where a diagnosis of PH reveals that the disorder has been caused by another illness, it’s sometimes referred to as secondary PH.
Group 1. This type of hypertension includes cases without any known cause – known as idiopathic disease – as well as those with a genetic basis. Experts also include PAH linked to heart disease present at birth, HIV infections, thyroid diseases, and use of specification medications and street drugs like cocaine.
Group 2. Patients with this type of PH experience heart disease on the left side. The illness is linked to causes such as mitral value disease or the presence of long-term high blood pressure.
Group 3. PH of this type is related to lung problems like interstitial lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Health care professionals also include PH linked to a variety of sleep issues that can cause breathing problems. The classic example is sleep apnea.
Group 4. Blood clots, clotting disorders, and sickle cell anemia are typical causes of this type of pulmonary hypertension.
Group 5. This type includes PH caused by a variety of conditions or diseases. Among the most common are sarcoidosis, Langerhans cell histiocytosis, and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). Pulmonary hypertension of this type is sometimes the result of pressure on pulmonary blood vessels from growths like tumors.
Cases that doctors label idiopathic are very rare. Between two and three times as many females as males develop hypertension without any known cause. Doctors consider all of the types of pulmonary hypertension difficult to diagnose at any stage. Patients who are able to get an early diagnosis have the best chance of controlling the symptoms of this progressive illness.