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What is Primary Pulmonary Hypertension?

Feb 29, 2008
Many people have heard the term 'hypertension' and know that it is synonymous with high blood pressure. But what is primary pulmonary hypertension? As the name suggests, this disease has something to do with the pulmonary artery that is responsible for carrying oxygen-depleted blood into the heart where it can be pumped into the lungs.

For unknown reasons, the pressure in the pulmonary artery can become quite high, altering the smaller blood vessels within the lungs. When this happens, the heart has to work much harder to pump the blood into the lungs, which results in a strain on this portion of the heart.

Because the heart is affected by primary pulmonary hypertension, this disease can become quite serious, especially if it is not caught and diagnosed in its early stages. For this reason, it is important to understand what it is, and how to recognize the symptoms of this disease.

The symptoms can include shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting and extreme fatigue. Because these symptoms are somewhat nondescript, there are many other possibilities that are generally rule out before a diagnosis is given.

This leads many patients to suffer with the disease without an accurate diagnosis for some time, until the later symptoms of the disease begin to appear. These symptoms might include swelling of the legs and ankles, a bluish tint around the lips and mouth and chest pain. A diagnosis for primary pulmonary hypertension can be fairly easily made through a test called a heart catheterization.

During this diagnostic test, a small tube is inserted through a vein in the arm or leg and then threaded up into the heart and pulmonary artery. A tiny camera is attached to the end of the tube so the doctor can see the heart and arteries to determine if anything is out of the ordinary.

A diagnosis of primary pulmonary hypertension may lead to medications like anticoagulants to prevent blood clots from forming and diuretics that reduce the amount of fluid in the body. Oxygen may be given if breathing has become more difficult, and in some of the more severe cases a lung or heart/lung transplant may be necessary.

There is no cure for primary pulmonary hypertension; a patient's best bet is to successfully treat the symptoms and possibly slow the progression of the disease. The first step is early diagnosis, which can occur when a doctor and patient understand what it is, and make an early, accurate diagnosis.
About the Author
Nick Johnson is lead counsel with Johnson Law Group. Johnson represents plaintiffs in many states and focuses on injury cases involving Fen-Phen and PPH, Paxil, Mesothelioma, and Avandia. Call Nick Johnson at 1-888-311-5522 or visit http://www.johnsonlawgroup.com
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