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Can Pulmonary Hypertension Cause Heart Failure?

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 9/23/2010

Pulmonary hypertension and congestive heart failure are closely associated with each other. Pulmonary hypertension happens when there is an increased pressure in the arteries of the lungs. This condition can frequently result in the development of heart failure if not managed early.

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    Overview

    Pulmonary hypertension and congestive heart failure have been closely associated with each other. Pulmonary hypertension (PH) refers heart to the increase in pressure within the pulmonary arteries. These arteries carry blood from the heart to the lungs where it picks up oxygen. It is usually characterized by symptoms like difficulty in breathing even during simple activities like climbing flights of stairs, chest pains, fatigue and irregular heartbeat. When the ailment worsens, it may limit the physical activities of the individual.

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    Causes

    There are some conditions that can affect the state of the lungs and subsequently cause pulmonary hypertension. First, when the arterial walls tighten; second, when the arterial walls become stiff due to cell overgrowth; and lastly when arteries host the formation of blood clots. Such changes can make it difficult for the heart to push blood through the arteries and to the lungs. When the heart works harder due to the increased pressure, the right ventricle becomes weaker. When the heart becomes so weak that it can no longer support pumping of blood to the lungs, heart failure happens. Hear failure is also the most typical cause of death among people who have pulmonary heart congestion.

    In most patients with pulmonary hypertension, the average pulmonary artery pressure is higher than 30 mmHG during a physical activity. The normal artery pressure should be around 15mmHg while the person is at rest. mmHg refers to millimeters of mercury, and is the unit of measurement for blood pressure. Other conditions like lung and heart diseases are also known to cause pulmonary hypertension.

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    Symptoms

    There are several symptoms associated with pulmonary hypertensions. These include chest pains, irregular heartbeat, unexplained fatigue, and difficulty in breathing. When the condition worsens, a person will find it impossible to perform physical activities. The symptoms may also include fainting, swelling in the ankle and legs, and bluish color on the skin.

    Pulmonary hypertension and congestive heart failure are thus closely linked with each other. In order to prevent the onset of heart failure, pulmonary hypertension should be controlled.

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    Control

    There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension although research for medication is continuously ongoing. It is frequently easier to control pulmonary hypertension when it is detected early. Treatnent options include drugs, procedures and therapies. Said treatments may relieve the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension and slow down the development of the disease. Changes in one’s lifestyle will also control the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension.

    The disease is said to be common among people aged 20 to 60 years old, although it may also strike persons of at much younger ages. People who have increased risk of getting pulmonary hypertension include those who are genetically predisposed to the condition, as well as those who have certain diseases like heart and lung diseases, HIV infection, liver disease, and blood clots. Those who also use certain medications and street drugs like cocaine may also be at risk of developing pulmonary hypertension.

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    References

    National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Pulmonary Hypertension

    MedlinePlus: Pulmonary Hypertension

    MedicineNet.com: Pulmonary Hypertension

    Image Credit / Wikimedia Commons / Ekko