Most Common Ph Symptoms
“Pulmonary hypertension can cause shortness of breath with exertion, fainting, low oxygen levels, and/or lower extremity swelling. I listen for patients telling me they are having trouble doing things they used to be able to do because they are now short of breath. For example, patients now having trouble walking to the store or going upstairs.” Dr. Benjamin Ranard
Low oxygen levels in the blood cause general fatigue and shortness of breath when youre physically active. It can also lead to lightheadedness and fainting.
When the heart isnt receiving enough oxygen, you may feel pain in the chest.
Pulmonary hypertension increases pressure in the blood vessels between the heart and the lungs. Over time, this stresses the heart, making it harder for the heart to pump. It may lead to other symptoms, such as fluid build-up in the legs and belly and a lack of appetite.
Lung Conditions Associated With Shortness Of Breath
Emphysema: This is a type of COPD that causes poor lung function and is most often caused by smoking. Not smoking or quitting is the best prevention and treatment, but COPD diseases can also be treated with antibiotics, inhaled steroids, and bronchodilators.
Asthma: Asthma is the inflammation of the airways causing them to narrow, which limits breathing and causes tightness in the chest and coughing. The severity of asthma ranges from person to person, and it is a fairly common condition. Asthma is a life-long condition, and it can be treated both short-term with inhalers and long-term with medications such as inhaled corticosteroids.
Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes inflammation and fluid accumulation. Most types are contagious, and it can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Pneumonia is treated with medications to alleviate symptoms and antibiotics.
Pulmonary edema: This condition is marked by excess fluid accumulation in the lungs and can be related to heart issues. Shortness of breath is the most common symptom of this condition, and it can be treated with medications and oxygen therapy.
Cold and Flu: Cold and flu viruses impact your airways and lungs and can cause congestion, which interferes with breathing. They can also cause fluid to enter the lungs, which will also cause shortness of breath as a result of inflamed airways. There is no treatment for viruses, so symptoms are treated to keep individuals comfortable.
How Is Pulmonary Hypertension Treated
Appropriate diagnosis and analysis of the problem is necessary before starting any treatment. Treatment varies by patient, based on the different underlying causes, but generally includes:
- Taking medications
Listed below are medication, lifestyle and dietary suggestions, and surgical treatment approaches.
Many different types of medications are available to treat pulmonary hypertension. Treatment choices, such as those listed below, depend on the underlying cause of pulmonary hypertension, how severe the pulmonary hypertension is, how likely it is to progress, and a patientâs drug tolerance.
- Know the names of your medications and how they work. Keep a list with you.
- Take your medications at the same time every day. If you forget a dose, do not take two doses to make up for the dose you missed.
- Do not take any over-the-counter drugs unless you ask your doctor or pharmacist first. Some drugs such as decongestants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents can cause problems in people who have heart failure. Also avoid any over-the-counter medications whose labels state that caution is to be used if you have high blood pressure.
- Do not stop taking or change your medications unless you first talk with your doctor.
- Avoid herbal products because of their uncertain effects when combined with medications used for pulmonary hypertension.
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What Is Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare lung disorder in which the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs become narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow through the vessels. As a result, the blood pressure in these arteries — called pulmonary arteries — rises far above normal levels. This abnormally high pressure strains the right ventricle of the heart, causing it to expand in size. Overworked and enlarged, the right ventricle gradually becomes weaker and loses its ability to pump enough blood to the lungs. This could lead to the development of right heart failure.
PH occurs in individuals of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds, although it is much more common in young adults and is approximately twice as common in women as in men.
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When To See A Doctor
Most of the time, high blood pressure doesnât cause headaches or nosebleeds. But, this can happen in a hypertensive crisis when blood pressure is above 180/120. If your blood pressure is extremely high and you have these symptoms, rest for 5 minutes and check again. If your blood pressure is still unusually high, itâs a medical emergency. Call 911.
Itâs important to remember that high blood pressure doesnât usually have symptoms. So, everyone should get it checked regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that adults with normal blood pressure should get blood pressure checked each year at routine health visits. You may also have it checked at a health resource fair or other locations in your community.
If you have high blood pressure, your doctor might recommend that you monitor it more often at home. At-home monitors may work better than store-based machines. Your doctor will also recommend making lifestyle changes along with medications to lower your blood pressure.
Why Does Pulmonary Hypertension Cause Shortness Of Breath
Catching ones breath after mild or no activity could be a sign of a rare but serious condition affecting the bodys ability to circulate oxygenated blood to the heart.
There are many reasons a person might feel winded after climbing a few flights of stairs or some other brief physical activity.
Among them? Pulmonary hypertension or high blood pressure in the loop of vessels connecting the heart and lungs. Shortness of breath is a telltale sign of the condition.
Its because the right side of the heart is having trouble pushing blood flow through the lungs and its not getting to the left side of the heart and body, McLaughlin says. It puts strain on the right side of the heart, which is not used to pushing against the high pressure.
Patients with PH have blocked or narrowed arteries in their lungs. As a result, the system designed to carry fresh, oxygenated blood into the left side of the heart and then to the rest of the body is affected.
Other indicators of PH include fatigue, lightheadedness, chest pain, racing heartbeat and swelling in the ankles or legs.
Other tests may follow to determine the underlying cause of an individuals PH.
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Chest Pain Pressure And Discomfort
Most people with heart attacks experience some sort of chest pain or discomfort. But its important to understand that chest pains dont occur in every heart attack.
Chest pain is a common sign of a heart attack. People have described this sensation as feeling like an elephant is standing on their chest.
Some people dont describe chest pain as pain at all. Instead, they may say they felt chest tightness or squeezing. Sometimes this discomfort can seem bad for a few minutes and then go away. Sometimes the discomfort comes back hours or even a day later. These could all be signs your heart muscle isnt getting enough oxygen.
If you experience chest pains or tightness, you or someone around you should call 911 immediately.
Pain and tightness can also radiate in other areas of the body. Most people associate a heart attack with pain working its way down the left arm. That can happen, but pain can also appear in other locations, including:
- upper abdomen
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Who Gets Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare condition that can affect people of any age. According to the NHS, its more common in people who have another lung or heart condition. PH can also be associated with other medical conditions such as connective tissue conditions, congenital heart disease, HIV, genetic causes, or it can happen by itself. Read more about the different types of PH and what causes it.
According to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association UK, PH is more common in women. Studies have shown that the female sex hormone is a risk factor for pulmonary arterial hypertension , with PAH around four times more likely in women.
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Screening For Pulmonary Hypertension
There is no currently recommended screening for pulmonary hypertension. If a member of your immediate family is diagnosed, it is recommended that you have an echocardiogram to screen for the condition. The gene most closely associated with inheritable pulmonary hypertension is BMPR2. However, many people without this gene develop pulmonary hypertension, and some people who do have the gene lead healthy lives without ever suffering from high blood pressure on the lungs. For these reasons, genetic testing is only done in very specific circumstances, often for academic purposes such as research. If you have scleroderma, you may be monitored yearly for development of pulmonary hypertension.
What The Doctor Does
Doctors first ask questions about the person’s symptoms and medical history. Doctors then do a physical examination. What doctors find during the history and physical examination often suggests a cause and the tests that may need to be done .
Doctors ask questions to determine
When shortness of breath started
Whether it started abruptly or gradually
How long the person has felt short of breath
Whether any conditions trigger it or make it worse
The person is also asked questions about past medical history , a history of smoking, any family members who have had high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, and risk factors for pulmonary embolism .
The physical examination focuses on the heart and lungs. Doctors listen to the lungs for congestion, wheezing, and abnormal sounds called crackles. They listen to the heart for murmurs . Swelling of both legs suggests heart failure, but swelling of only one leg is more likely to result from a blood clot in the leg. A blood clot in the leg may break off and travel to the blood vessels in the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism.
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How Serious Is Pulmonary Hypertension
“In the past 20 years there have been over 10 new FDA approved medications for pulmonary arterial hypertension. There are many ongoing trials studying both new drugs and also studying different combinations of drugs to determine what the best treatment options are for patients.” Dr. Ranard
If you have new or sudden shortness of breath or chest pain, go to the ER. It could be a sign of something more serious.
If you have been experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing during physical activity for a few weeks or months, see your doctor.
The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension can seem vague and may be caused by other problems. It is important to see your doctor.
What Is Low Blood Pressure
Low blood pressure results in inadequate blood flow and therefore inadequate delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other organs. This can be damaging and BP too low only if the cause permanent harm. Some experts consider low blood pressure in adults less than 90/60 mm Hg others consider BP too low if symptoms occur.
If you are diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension you will have three- to twelve-monthly reviews, depending on:
- the severity of your illness
- the cause of your pulmonary hypertension
- the treatment you are receiving.
You will be encouraged to make healthy lifestyle changes. You can reduce your risk of worsening pulmonary hypertension by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking. A healthy diet and moderate amounts of exercise are proven to be of benefit in improving effort tolerance and reducing symptoms. Your treating doctor will issue the appropriate referrals to ensure that any underlying medical conditions contributing to your pulmonary hypertension are managed by the appropriate specialists.Your GP will help you to lower your cardiovascular risk by treating high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure. It is important to tell your GP or specialist if you are feeling overwhelmed, as they may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can. They may refer you to a counsellor or psychologist who can help you cope with the changes your symptoms make to your everyday life.
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How Is Pulmonary Hypertension Diagnosed
Because pulmonary hypertension may be caused by many medical conditions, a complete medical history, physical exam, and description of your symptoms are necessary to rule out other diseases and make the correct diagnosis. During the physical exam, your healthcare provider will:
- Listen for abnormal heart sounds, such as a loud pulmonic valve sound, a systolic murmur of tricuspid regurgitation, or a gallop due to ventricular failure.
- Examine the jugular vein in the neck for engorgement .
- Examine the abdomen, legs, and ankles for fluid retention.
- Examine nail beds for bluish tint.
- Look for signs of other underlying diseases that might be causing pulmonary hypertension.
Other tests that might be ordered include:
- Blood tests:
- Complete blood count : Tests for infection, elevated hemoglobin, and anemia.
- B-type natriuretic peptide : A marker for heart failure.
Whats Considered High Blood Pressure
A blood pressure reading consists of two numbers:
- Systolic pressure. The first or top number tells you what the pressure is in your arteries during heartbeats.
- Diastolic pressure. The second or bottom number tells you what the pressure is in your arteries between heartbeats.
According to the American Heart Association , a normal or healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury . The following categories define blood pressure readings that are above this level.
- Elevated. This is a systolic number between 120 and 129 mm Hg and a diastolic number less than 80 mm Hg.
- Stage 1 hypertension. Stage 1 is a systolic number between 130 and 139 mm Hg or a diastolic reading between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension. Stage 2 is a systolic pressure thats 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher.
- Hypertensive crisis. This is a systolic pressure over 180 mm Hg or diastolic pressure over 120 mm Hg. Blood pressure in this range requires medical attention right away.
Other Causes For Fatigue With High Blood Pressure
Although fatigue can be a symptom of high blood pressure, a lack of sleep may actually be a contributing factor, too.
Sleeping 5 hours or less per night may raise your risk for developing high blood pressure. And if you already have high blood pressure, lack of sleep could be making it worse.
In addition, obstructive sleep apnea is a known risk factor for hypertension, especially in older age groups.
Some prescription medications used to treat high blood pressure can also cause fatigue.
Another cause of fatigue could be due to pulmonary artery hypertension. This is when you have high blood pressure in the vessels that carry blood between your heart and lungs. Along with fatigue, it can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness.
There are usually no symptoms or warning signs that you have hypertension. Thats why its so important to monitor your blood pressure.
Its especially important to see your doctor if youre experiencing:
- stress management
- drinking alcohol in moderation
Your doctor will also consider your age, coexisting conditions, and any other medications you take when treating your blood pressure. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe hypertension medications. These include:
Some of these medications can cause you to feel tired.
Other treatments depend on the extent of damage to your heart, kidneys, and overall health.
- following a healthy, balanced, low-salt diet
- getting regular exercise