Pulmonary hypertension is a form of high blood pressure that affects the pulmonary arteries that carry the blood from the heart to the lungs. Beware of these symptoms of pulmonary hypertension because it can ultimately lead to heart failure.
Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the arteries that carry blood from the heart to your lungs, called pulmonary arteries, are blocked, narrowed, or destroyed. Because of this, it is harder for the blood to flow through your lungs, which increases the pressure in these arteries. When there is a constriction in the arteries, your heart has to work harder in order to compensate. This eventually leads to weakened heart muscles that ultimately stop, resulting in heart failure.
It takes several months or even years for the narrowing in the arteries to be severe enough for the pressure to build up. This is the reason why it may take years for you to notice the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is an illness that becomes worse over a period of time, and can sometimes also be fatal. There is no cure for this serious disorder, but the treatment options available help reduce the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension, thereby improving the quality of your life.
It is often difficult to diagnose pulmonary hypertension in its early stages because it cannot be detected in a regular physical exam. In its advanced stage, the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are very similar to the symptoms of other lung and heart conditions. Some examples of the tests used to diagnose this form of hypertension are Doppler echocardiogram, chest X-ray, blood tests, and pulmonary function test.
Once the diagnosis is done, the treatment plans require regular follow-up with your doctor. The doctor may even need to change your treatment method if it is not effective any longer. Some of the standard pulmonary hypertension medications include vasodilators, anticoagulants, diuretics, and high-dose calcium channel blockers.
Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension
Some of the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are:
- Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is one of the first symptoms of pulmonary hypertension that you may notice. Breathing is possible only because of the blood vessels and arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood into your lungs. When you have pulmonary hypertension, it impacts the inhale-exhale routine making breathing difficult, and sometimes even labored. Simple, daily tasks like cleaning your house, walking, and climbing stairs may leave you breathless.
- Swelling in your legs
One of the other symptoms of pulmonary hypertension is swelling in your legs, feet and ankles. Swelling or edema is usually the result of the inability of the kidneys to properly remove the waste from your body. When you have pulmonary hypertension, fluid retention becomes more and more likely.
- Blue Lips
It is the red blood cells that carry the oxygen to the other parts of the body that need it to perform several functions. When you are suffering from pulmonary hypertension, there is an inadequate amount of oxygen in your red blood cells, therefore, the body parts cannot get the amount of oxygen they need. Low levels of oxygen can result in a bluish tint in your lips as well as skin. This condition is also called as cyanosis.
- Dizziness and Fatigue
One of the first symptoms that you will experience with pulmonary hypertension is shortness of breath. If the lungs do not get enough oxygen, your brain and the rest of your body is not getting adequate oxygen either. Oxygen is extremely critical for the performance of all the tasks in your body. Without an adequate amount of oxygen, it is impossible for you carry on with your everyday routine. You will feel that your legs get tired easily after a walk and your brain will seem slower. When there is a lack of oxygen supply to the brain, you may also suffer from dizziness or fainting. In other words, without a proper supply of oxygen, you will feel tired all the time.
- Irregular Heartbeat
Because there is a constriction in the pulmonary arteries, the muscles of your heart work harder than they usually would. Over a period of time, these muscles start growing weaker. A heart that is weakened does not beat as regularly or as well as it did when it was healthy. Pulmonary hypertension may eventually result in heart palpitations, an erratic heartbeat, or a racing pulse.
These symptoms of pulmonary hypertension and its severity differs from person to person. Therefore, the most effective treatment plan for pulmonary hypertension is one that is customized to suit your needs and requirements.