Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs, as well as the right side of your heart. PH occurs when blood vessels in the lungs narrow, harden, or become blocked. If you have PH, you may experience symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain, or a racing heart. Left untreated, PH can lead to right heart failure and death.
Specialists at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute are known worldwide for their expertise in offering advanced PH treatments. These treatments can help you enjoy life more fully.
Types of pulmonary hypertension
There are many different causes of PH. Our heart physicians treat all PH conditions, including:
- Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH): This condition occurs when the arterial walls in the lungs tighten and stiffen. As a result, the right side of your heart enlarges and struggles to pump blood through the lungs.
- Pulmonary venous hypertension (PVH): This condition often results from diseases of the left side of the heart, such structural heart disease or heart valve disease, and failure of the left heart chamber or left ventricle. PVH causes the heart to work harder to carry blood away from the lungs.
- Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH): This rare form of PH occurs when blood clots in the lung (pulmonary embolisms) block blood flow within the lungs’ arteries. Learn more about CTEPH.
Pulmonary hypertension program at Allegheny Health Network: why choose us?
It’s not uncommon for people with PH to be misdiagnosed with asthma or another lung ailment. An incorrect diagnosis and treatment plan increases your risk for right heart failure and can be life-threatening. Our experts have the training, experience, and tools to provide quick, accurate PH care. We offer you:
- Depth of expertise: You receive care from some of the most esteemed PH specialists in the country. Our accomplishments include:
- First PH Center of Comprehensive Care in western Pennsylvania accredited by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association
- Yearly treatment of more than 500 patients with all types of PH
- Development of national, leading-edge guidelines for assessing and treating PH
- Key contributors to the world’s largest PAH database, the Registry to Evaluate Early and Long-term PAH Disease Management (REVEAL Registry™)
- Pioneers in the use of genetic markers to personalize treatment plans (pharmacogenomics)
- Advanced care for complex PH: Our CTEPH program is internationally renowned for exceptional patient results and skilled care. We are the only medical center in the region offering highly complex surgical procedures and interventional therapies for CTEPH.
- Home monitoring: We’re pioneering the use of the CardioMEMS™ implantable device to remotely monitor pulmonary artery pressure and heart function as you go about daily life. Daily readings sent from the convenience of your home alert our team to problems before symptoms start, allowing us to quickly adjust treatments.
- Individualized treatment: Our physicians use a collaborative team approach to tailor an aggressive treatment plan that halts disease progression and adds quality to your life. When appropriate, you may choose to participate in clinical trials for new therapies via the Cardiovascular Research Institute.
- Dedicated team of experts: Our board-certified physicians in cardiology, pulmonary medicine, rheumatology, cardiothoracic surgery, and palliative care work with PH specialty nurses, nutritionists, social workers, and geneticists to provide you with all-inclusive care. A dedicated nurse navigator guides you throughout the diagnosis and treatment process.
- Partnerships with referring physicians: We work closely with your referring physician to ensure seamless continuity of care, from diagnosis to treatment and disease management. We’re always available to answer questions from you or your primary physician.
An accurate diagnosis is critical in ensuring that you receive the treatment best suited for your type of PH. Our team uses sophisticated imaging technology to precisely diagnose your condition. Our diagnostic tests include:
- Echocardiogram: This noninvasive ultrasound procedure uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart structure, including valves, walls, and blood vessels.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG): This test records your heart’s electrical activity and can show whether your right ventricle is enlarged or strained.
- Right heart catheterization: This procedure measures pressure inside your pulmonary arteries. Your physician performs tests via a thin, flexible tube called a catheter threaded through a blood vessel into the right side of your heart and lungs.
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This noninvasive procedure uses electromagnetic radio waves to create detailed 3D still images and real-time videos of your heart and circulatory system.
PH treatments at AHN
Our physicians offer the most advanced PH treatments available, including drug therapies still in clinical trial phase. Your treatment depends on the PH type and may include:
- Medications to relax blood vessels in the lungs
- Oxygen therapy
- Treatments for structural heart disease and heart valve disease
AHN: leaders in cardiovascular care
AHN is the highest-rated health system in western Pennsylvania for patient safety in overall medical care, overall surgical care, heart attack treatment, heart failure treatment, and pulmonary care, according to the 2018 CareChex® quality rating system.* Learn more about the Cardiovascular Institute.
*Number one in market claims are based on CareChex® 2018 Composite Quality Scores and Ratings™ for acute care hospitals serving the combined statistical area (CSA) of Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton. Source: 2018 CareChex, an information service of Quantros, Inc. January 2014 – June 2016