Pulmonary Hypertension

Extracted from PHA UK

What is Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a serious medical condition, and should not be confused with hypertension (high blood pressure). Click here to learn more about what PH is.

You will have a number of tests to see if you have PH. If you have PH, it is important to find out which type of PH you have. Not all forms of PH are serious, and some do not need to be treated directly.

Symptoms of PH

The main symptom of PH is breathlessness. This is the symptom that people will normally notice first. Other symptoms may include dizziness, feeling faint, swelling of the feet or ankles, and chest pain (particularly during exercise).

The heart and circulatory system

To understand what PH is, it first helps to understand a bit about the circulatory system. As shown in the figure, the heart pumps oxygen-poor blood to the lungs so the blood can take up oxygen. Blood that is oxygen-poor is normally shown on diagrams as blue, whereas oxygen-rich blood returning from the lungs is normally shown in red.
The heart and circulatory system

During periods of exercise, the heart beats more quickly to get more oxygen to the muscles. At the same time, the blood vessels carrying blood to the lungs (the pulmonary arteries) expand to allow more blood through. The pulmonary arteries do this by stretching slightly. In a person with PH, the walls of the pulmonary arteries are thicker, so are less able to stretch.
The pulmonary artery in a healthy person

The pulmonary artery in a person with PH

In a person with PH, because the pulmonary arteries are less able to stretch, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the lungs. If the heart has to work harder than usual over a long period of time (months or years), it begins to work less effectively.

Extracted from PHA UK


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