CCRN Pulmonary HypertensionPerry Overton
CCRN Pulmonary Hypertension Overview (2020)
Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs and the right side of your heart.
In one form of pulmonary hypertension, tiny arteries in your lungs, called pulmonary arterioles, and capillaries become narrowed, blocked or destroyed. This makes it harder for blood to flow through your lungs, and raises pressure within your lungs’ arteries. As the pressure builds, your heart’s lower right chamber (right ventricle) must work harder to pump blood through your lungs; eventually causing your heart muscle to weaken and fail.
Some forms of pulmonary hypertension are serious conditions that become progressively worse and are sometimes fatal. Although some forms of pulmonary hypertension aren’t curable, treatment can help lessen symptoms and improve your quality of life.
CCRN Pulmonary Hypertension – Signs and Symptoms
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea), initially while exercising and eventually while at rest
- Dizziness or fainting spells (syncope)
- Chest pressure or pain
- Swelling (edema) in your ankles, legs and eventually in your abdomen (ascites)
- Bluish color to your lips and skin (cyanosis)
- Racing pulse or heart palpitations
CCRN Pulmonary Hypertension – Causes
Your heart has two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). Each time blood passes through your heart; the lower right chamber (right ventricle) pumps blood to your lungs through a large blood vessel (pulmonary artery).
In your lungs, the blood releases carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood then flows through blood vessels in your lungs (pulmonary arteries, capillaries and veins) to the left side of your heart. Ordinarily, the blood flows easily through the vessels in your lungs, so blood pressure is usually much lower in your lungs.
With pulmonary hypertension, the rise in blood pressure is caused by changes in the cells that line your pulmonary arteries. These changes can cause the walls of the arteries to become stiff and thick, and extra tissue may form. The blood vessels may also become inflamed and tight.
These changes in the pulmonary arteries can reduce or block blood flow through the blood vessels. This makes it harder for blood to flow, raising the blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries.
CCRN Pulmonary Hypertension – Risk Factors
- Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension is more common in younger adults
- Family history of the disease
- Illegal drugs, such as cocaine
- Appetite-suppressant medications
CCRN Pulmonary Hypertension – Complications
- Cor Pulmonale
- Blood Clots
CCRN Pulmonary Hypertension – Treatments
Pulmonary hypertension can’t be cured, but doctors can help you manage your condition. Treatment may help improve your symptoms and slow the progress of pulmonary hypertension.