Pulmonary Hypertension with COPD

Pulmonary hypertension is most commonly associated with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) but may also be associated with some types of heart disease, auto-immune diseases, and other, rarer, conditions.

What causes Pulmonary Hypertension with COPD?

Pulmonary Hypertension is classified into 5 groups, depending on the cause.

Group 1: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)

Causes include:

  • Unknown cause (idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension)
  • Changes in a gene passed down through families (heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension)
  • Use of certain drugs or illegal substances
  • Heart problems present at birth (congenital heart disease)
  • Other conditions such as HIV infection, chronic liver disease (cirrhosis) and connective tissue disorders (scleroderma, lupus, others)

Group 2: Pulmonary hypertension caused by left-sided heart disease

Causes include:

  • Left-sided heart valve disease such as mitral valve or aortic valve disease
  • Failure of the lower left heart chamber (left ventricle)

Group 3: Pulmonary hypertension caused by lung disease

Causes include:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Scarring of the tissue between the lung’s air sacs (pulmonary fibrosis)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Long-term exposure to high altitudes in people who may be at higher risk of pulmonary hypertension

Group 4: Pulmonary hypertension caused by chronic blood clots

Causes include:

  • Chronic blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary emboli)
  • Other clotting disorders

Group 5: Pulmonary hypertension triggered by other health conditions

Causes include:

  • Blood disorders, including polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia
  • Inflammatory disorders such as sarcoidosis and vasculitis
  • Metabolic disorders, including glycogen storage disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Tumors pressing against pulmonary arteries

What to do if you think you have Pulmonary Hypertension?

Discussing your medical history and symptoms with a healthcare professional can help you in getting a clear diagnosis. The condition is diagnosed primarily with an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart).

Early warning signs that can indicate the need for assessment by doctors include:

  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • chest pain (angina)
  • a racing heartbeat (palpitations)
  • swelling (oedema) in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy (abdomen)

The symptoms often get worse during exercise, which can limit your ability to take part in physical activities.

Who is most at risk for developing Pulmonary Hypertension?

  • Pulmonary hypertension happens at all ages, including children, and its incidence increases with age
  • Pulmonary hypertension is more common among women, non-Hispanic black people, and people aged 75 or older

What does having Pulmonary Hypertension feel like?

Most commonly, the condition causes shortness of breath with activity as one of the first symptoms.

What to do if you experience complications of Pulmonary Hypertension?

If you experience the following, call 911 or visit the emergency room:

  • Chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Worsening shortness of breath
  • Unusual shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Headache
  • Blue lips, fingernails, or earlobes

Lifestyle Changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help prevent your Pulmonary Hypertension from getting worse. Consider quitting smoking, reducing the salt in your diet, and eating a healthy diet overall.

For more information, visit https://phassociation.org/