Pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high
Pulmonary arterial hypertension; Sporadic primary pulmonary hypertension; Familial primary pulmonary hypertension; Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension; Primary pulmonary hypertension; PPH; Secondary pulmonary hypertension
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The right side of the heart pumps blood through the lungs, where it can receive oxygen.
When the small arteries (blood vessels) of the lung become narrowed, they cannot carry as much blood. When this happens, pressure builds up. This is called pulmonary hypertension.
The heart needs to work harder to force the blood through the vessels against this pressure. Over time, the right side of the heart may become enlarged. At some point, not enough blood flows to the lungs to pick up oxygen and symptoms begin.
At this point, heart failure that involves the right side of the heart is present. This is called cor pulmonale.
Pumonary hypertension may be caused by:
- Any condition that causes chronic low oxygen levels in the blood
- Autoimmune diseases that damage the lungs, such as
sclerodermaand rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain birth defects of the heart
- Certain diet medications
- History of a blood clot in the lung
- Lung or heart valve disease
Obstructive sleep apnea
In many cases the cause is unknown, in which case the condition is known as idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). IPAH is rare. It affects more women than men.
If it is caused by a known medicine or medical condition, it is called secondary pulmonary hypertension.
Review Date: 04/27/2010
Reviewed By: Allen J. Blaivas, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine UMDNJ-NJMS, Attending Physician in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Department of Veterans Affairs, VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.