Normal pulmonary artery pressure is 8-20 mm Hg when resting. If the pulmonary artery pressure is greater than 20 mm Hg at rest, it’s classified as PH. Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), formerly called primary pulmonary hypertension, is a progressive form of PH that 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.
PH can develop slowly and not show any signs or symptoms. When a patient has severe pulmonary hypertension, symptoms are often present at rest and during physical activity. Your doctor will have to run a variety of tests to diagnose PH. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will classify the severity of the condition and the type of PH to help determine the treatment. Treatment may include medications or surgery to help improve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
Depending on the cause, PH is classified into five groups, and our heart experts treat them all.
PAH disease, also known as primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), 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.
This condition often results from diseases of the left side of the heart, such as structural heart disease or heart valve disease, and failure of the left heart chamber or left ventricle. This causes “back pressure” of fluid from the left side of the heart to the blood vessels of the lungs.
This condition is caused by chronic lung disease or hypoxia. Causes can include COPD/emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, sleep apnea, and living in a high-altitude area for too long.
This rare form of PH occurs when blood clots in the lung (pulmonary emboli) block blood flow within the lungs’ arteries. Learn more about CTEPH.
This classification occurs when PH is associated with other conditions in a way that is often not completely understood. These conditions may include metabolic disorders, anemia, spleen removal, and sarcoidosis.
Symptoms for PH typically develop slowly over time. Patients may not experience any symptoms for months or years until the disease progresses.
Pulmonary hypertension symptoms can include:
It’s not uncommon for people with PH to be misdiagnosed with asthma, bronchitis, left-sided congestive heart failure, 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 receive care from some of the most esteemed PH specialists in the country. Our accomplishments include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 best treatment for your type of PH. Our team uses sophisticated imaging technology to precisely diagnose your condition. Our diagnostic tests include:
This noninvasive ultrasound procedure uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart structure, including valves, walls, and blood vessels.
This test records your heart’s electrical activity and can show whether your right ventricle is enlarged or strained.
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.
This noninvasive procedure uses electromagnetic radio waves to create detailed 3D still images and real-time videos of your heart and circulatory system.
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:
Risk factors of pulmonary hypertension include:
There is currently no cure available for people living with PH; however, it can be managed. Lifestyle modifications and medications can help decrease symptoms of PH and slow down the progression of the condition. If left untreated, PH can become life-threatening within a few years.
CardioMEMS is a trademark of Abbott and is used with permission.
*For more information on the Pulmonary Hypertension Association Center for Comprehensive Care accreditation, visit phassociation.org/phcarecenters/accredited-centers