The Various Ways to Treat Pulmonary Hypertension

By  //  November 13, 2020

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Pulmonary hypertension is a very rare and life-threatening disease that relates to high blood pressure in the lungs as a result of damages to the pulmonary arteries. These blood vessels are responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the lungs, so they become narrow and are blocked because of this disease. 

As a result, the heart requires to work harder to pump the blood properly, so they become weakened and enlarged. When this happens, you risk developing other health conditions and suffering from the right heart failure.

Unfortunately, there is no current cure for this condition, though you can find various treatments designed to ease its symptoms, improve your quality of life, and slow the progress of the disease.

Keep in mind that pulmonary hypertension is treated with procedures, medication, and other therapies. This is the reason why you need to learn more about the disease which impacts 1-2 in every 1 million people. This article discusses the various ways to treat pulmonary hypertension.

Diagnosis

Before you understand the various treatment methods of pulmonary hypertension, it makes sense that you should know how this condition is diagnosed.

Well, pulmonary hypertension can be hard to diagnose early considering that it’s rare that they can detect it in a routine physical check-up. Worse still, when it’s in a more advanced stage, its signs and symptoms are quite similar to the other lung and heart conditions.

Therefore, your doctor may perform a physical check-up and discuss with you the signs and symptoms. They can even ask you questions about your family and medical history. Above all, your doctor can request tests to assist them to diagnose pulmonary hypertension and figure out its cause.

Tests for pulmonary hypertension can include blood tests that can help determine the cause of the condition or even check for signs of complications.

Another test is called a chest X-ray that can create pictures of your lungs, heart, and chest. This test can show an enlargement of the pulmonary arteries or the right ventricle of your heart. The doctor can also utilize this X-ray to find other lung conditions that can lead to pulmonary hypertension.

An electrocardiogram test is a noninvasive test that indicates your heart’s electrical patterns. It can show abnormal heartbeats and can also uncover signs of the right ventricle strain or enlargement.

Quite often, your doctor can also conduct an echocardiogram test which are sound waves that create moving pictures of the beating heart.

Turns out that this test can let your doctor view how well the heart and valves are performing. They can use it to determine the thickness and size of the right ventricle and to measure the pressure that is in your pulmonary arteries.

In some cases, an echocardiogram is performed while you’re exercising on a stationary treadmill or bike. This helps the doctors know how well your heart performs while doing an activity.

Therefore, you may be asked to put on a mask that can check your lungs and heart use of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Keep in mind that an echocardiogram can also be performed after pulmonary hypertension diagnosis to assess how well the treatments are working.

When an echocardiogram shows that you’re suffering from pulmonary hypertension, they may likely do a right heart catheterization just to confirm that the diagnosis was correct or not.

In this procedure, a cardiologist can place a flexible and thin tube into a vein which is in your groin or neck. This tube which is called a catheter is then inserted into your right ventricle and pulmonary artery.

Right heart catheterization helps your doctor to measure the pressure in the right ventricle of your heart and key pulmonary arteries. Besides, it can also be used to determine the effect of various medications on your pulmonary hypertension.

A genetic test is another common test that is done when your family member also suffers from pulmonary hypertension.

Therefore, your doctor can order for the screening of your genes that are associated with pulmonary hypertension. When you test positive, then your doctor may recommend that other members of your family should also be screened.

Aside from the above tests, your doctor can also do various other tests that include computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, pulmonary function test,open-lung biopsy, and many others. You can also get more information about pulmonary hypertension diagnosis at the Institute Website.

Treatment

As explained earlier, there is no current cure for pulmonary hypertension. The best thing your doctor can do is prescribe some treatments that can help you to manage this condition. Treatment can likely improve some of the symptoms and reduce the progress of pulmonary hypertension.

Most of the time, it can take a while to find the right treatment for pulmonary hypertension. it’s good to know that these treatments can sometimes be complex and may need extensive follow-up care.

When this condition is caused by some underlying conditions, then your doctor may treat that underlying condition whenever possible. Here are some of the available treatments for pulmonary hypertension:

Medications

There is a good chance that your doctor can prescribe blood vessel dilators which are sometimes called vasodilators. The good thing about this medication is that it can relax and open the blood vessels that are narrow to improve blood flow.

The most common prescribed blood vessel dilators are perhaps epoprostenol. This medication can flow continuously through an intravenous line that is attached to a small pump.

You can wear this small pump that comes in a pack on your shoulder or belt. But epoprostenol has some side effects that include nausea, jaw pain, leg cramps, and diarrhea.

You can also find some other forms of vasodilators, such as treprostinil that you can inhale, taken by mouth, or injected. For example, there is a drug called iloprost that is administered while you’re breathing in through a nebulizer, which is a machine designed to vaporize your medication.

Just like most of the drugs, treprostinil has also some side effects like chest pain, nausea, headache, and breathlessness. On the other hand, iloprost’s side effects include nausea, headache, and diarrhea.

Another important medication is known as endothelin receptor antagonists. This medication can reverse the effects of endothelin which is a substance that is found in the walls of the blood vessels that may cause the narrowing of these vessels. You can find various drugs like macitentan, bosentan, and ambrisentan.

All these drugs are formulated to manage your symptoms and improve energy levels. Unfortunately, they can also damage your liver. Therefore, you need to have monthly blood tests to make sure that your liver is still functioning. If you’re pregnant, ensure that you avoid taking endothelin.

As hard as it’s to believe it, but sildenafil and tadalafil which are usually used to treat erectile dysfunction are also a suitable treatment for pulmonary hypertension.

You see, these drugs usually dilate the blood vessels in the lungs, so it helps blood to flow more easily. However, they also have some side effects that include headache, upset stomach, and vision problems.

High-dose calcium channel blockers are also drugs used to treat pulmonary hypertension. These drugs can relax muscles that are in the walls of the blood vessels.

Some of these drugs include diltiazem, amlodipine, and nifedipine. While calcium channel blockers are known to be effective, few people with pulmonary hypertension improve when they take this treatment.

Another important drug that your doctor may prescribe is called warfarin. This drug is an anticoagulant, so your doctor can prescribe it to prevent blood clots that can happen in the lung’s arteries.

Once you take this medication, it can delay the clotting process and may put you at risk of bleeding. This is especially true if you are having an invasive or surgical procedure. Hence, you should always talk to your doctor about whether you must stop taking this medication before surgery.

Many other medications, foods, and herbal supplements also tend to interact with warfarin. Therefore, you need to talk to your doctor about other medications and diet. Also, you may require to have regular blood tests when taking warfarin to determine how well it’s performing.

Surgery

For people with Group 4 pulmonary hypertension, you may need to go through a special procedure known as pulmonary endarterectomy.

This procedure is usually done to remove blood clots in your lungs. The best thing about this procedure is that it can sometimes cure pulmonary hypertension as it improves the functions of the right side of your heart.

As a result, this can lower the pressure in the lungs. However, they always use proper patient selection to go through this procedure because it can have some risks and may not work for everyone.

Oxygen therapy

Home oxygen which is sometimes called supplemental oxygen can be used to treat pulmonary hypertension. This is when you’re given canisters of air that have additional oxygen you can use to inhale while at home.

This can help you, especially if you have low oxygen levels in your blood. With this treatment, it can improve some of the symptoms of tiredness and breathlessness by relaxing the arteries in the lungs.

Home oxygen is supposed to be utilized continuously for 7/24, or you can use it during high activity times. While it doesn’t extend your life expectancy, it can improve your quality of life.

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