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Pulmonary Disorders

Lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions worldwide. Tens of millions of people suffer from lung disease in the U.S. Smoking, infections, and genetics are responsible for most lung diseases.

The lungs are part of a complex apparatus, expanding and relaxing thousands of times daily to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can result from problems in any part of this system

  • Asthma: The airways are persistently inflamed, and may occasionally spasm, causing wheezing and shortness of breath.Allergies, infections, or pollution can trigger asthma‚Äôs symptoms.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Lung conditions defined by an inability to exhale normally, which causes difficulty breathing.
  • Chronic bronchitis: A form of COPD characterized by a chronic productivecough.
  • Emphysema: Lung damage allows air to be trapped in the lungs in this form of COPD. Difficulty blowing air out is its hallmark.
  • Acute bronchitis: A sudden infection of the airways, usually by a virus.
  • Cystic fibrosis: A genetic condition causing poor clearance of mucus from the bronchi. The accumulated mucus results in repeated lung infections.

Pulmonary Hypertension

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension (also called pulmonary arterial hypertension) is higher than normal blood pressure in the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs. It can occur when there is a stiffening and narrowing of these arteries, making it difficult to get blood to the pulmonary circulation, where it picks up oxygen to supply the heart and rest of the body. This creates an increase in pressure within the pulmonary arteries, forcing the right side of the heart to work harder to pump blood to the lungs. The result is an overworked heart muscle, which can lead to heart failure. Pulmonary hypertension is a serious condition that worsens over time. While there is no cure, and the disease can be fatal, treatments are available.

What are the varieties of pulmonary hypertension?

There are two types of pulmonary hypertension: primary and secondary. Primary pulmonary hypertension may have no determined cause, while secondary pulmonary hypertension is linked to another illness or disease (see below for more information).

Once pulmonary hypertension of either type is diagnosed, the level of severity is determined as follows:

  • Class 1: The patient is asymptomatic.
  • Class 2: The patient feels fatigued, short of breath, and/or experiences chest pain with regular activity.
  • Class 3: The patient is comfortable at rest but has symptoms with mild exertion.
  • Class 4. The patient has symptoms at rest.

What are the causes of pulmonary hypertension?

  1. Primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) often has no determined cause. People who develop PPH may be genetically predisposed to the condition, or sensitive to substances that cause the blood vessels to constrict, including stimulants. PPH may also be triggered by other illnesses, including autoimmune diseases such as lupus, as well as AIDS, scleroderma and sickle-cell anemia.
  2. Secondary pulmonary hypertension is linked to other heart and lung related medical problems, including:
  • Pathology of the lungs, such as blood clots, pulmonary fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema
  • Heart disease, including congenital heart conditions and left-sided heart failure
  • Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma
  • Sleep apnea (link to sleep apnea on their website)

Who is likely to get it?

Older adults are more likely to develop secondary pulmonary hypertension, while younger people are more likely to have primary pulmonary hypertension. PPH is more likely to occur in women than in men.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting spells.
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Swelling (edema) of the ankles, legs or abdomen
  • Racing pulse or heart palpitations

How is it pulmonary hypertension diagnosed?

Diagnostic technique varies, but methods used may include a physical examination, electrocardiogram, blood tests, chest X-rays, a Doppler Echocardiogram, magnetic resonance imagine and/or cardiopulmonary exercise testing.

What is the conventional treatment?

Prescription medications are commonly recommended to patients with pulmonary hypertension. These include blood vessel dilators, endothelin receptor antagonists, calcium channel blockers, anticoagulants, diuretics and supplemental oxygen.