Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension and other forms of pulmonary hypertension are dangerous because high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries increases pressure on the heart, causing serious effects on the heart and lungs.

1. What is idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension?

Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension is a pulmonary disorder caused by high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, where idiopathic means that the cause of pulmonary hypertension is unknown.

The pulmonary artery is responsible for transporting blood from the right side of your heart to your lungs. Pulmonary hypertension causes the blood to flow through the pulmonary arteries to narrow, putting more pressure on the heart.

Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension occurs when the average blood pressure in your pulmonary arteries is higher than 25 mmHg during rest and higher than 30 mmHg during exercise.

2. Symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension

Symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary hypertension vary according to the stage of the disease. If you see any abnormalities related to the heart or lungs, you should see a specialist medical facility.

Some of the symptoms of the disease include:

  • Tired;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Faint;
  • Dizzy;
  • Rapid pulse;
  • Chest pain;
  • heart palpitations;
  • Your lower extremities are swollen.

3. Causes of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension

If you have pulmonary hypertension, the increased blood pressure causes the arteries to thicken and narrow, reducing blood flow.

Some causes of high blood pressure include:

  • Congenital heart disease;
  • Lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis…);
  • Tumor in the pulmonary artery;
  • Heart valve disorder.

4. Risk factors for idiopathic pulmonary hypertension

Some factors that increase the risk of idiopathic pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Connective tissue disorders such as scleroderma or systemic lupus erythematosus;
  • Cirrhosis;
  • People with HIV and AIDS ;
  • Using drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine;
  • Use of weight loss drugs or appetite suppressants;
  • Smoke;
  • Exposure to small particles such as sawdust.

Your risk of developing pulmonary hypertension is higher if someone in your family has it.

Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension occurs spontaneously and of unknown cause. Your doctor will order a few tests to find the cause, but cannot determine the underlying cause for idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. Although the cause is unknown, the condition is more common in young people and women.

5. Diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary hypertension

Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension is difficult to diagnose because some people have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are similar to those of other heart and lung disorders.

Some tests that can help diagnose pulmonary hypertension include:

  • 12-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) to measure heart activity;
  • Lung function test to see how well the lungs are working;
  • Cardiac catheterization to check for problems with the blood supply to the heart;
  • Imaging studies (X-ray, CT, MRI…) to take pictures of your lungs and heart, to provide a picture of your blood vessels at the same time;
  • Walking: Your doctor will monitor your condition after you walk, such as checking for shortness of breath.

If your condition becomes severe, your doctor will order surgery.

6. Complications of idiopathic pulmonary hypertension

Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension requires prompt intervention because it can cause dangerous complications. If you don’t treat your symptoms, your condition will get worse very quickly. High blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries can cause the heart to work harder, leading to heart failure, and the function of the lungs is affected.

6. Treatment of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension

Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension cannot be completely cured, only the symptoms of the disease can be improved.

To slow the progression of pulmonary hypertension, it’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan and make healthy lifestyle changes that follow these suggestions:

  • Take time to rest;
  • Do moderate exercise to increase or maintain energy;
  • Avoid smoking including passive smoking;
  • Birth control pills have the potential to increase blood clotting, so consult your doctor for a safer alternative method of birth control;
  • Avoid traveling to more mountainous places;
  • Eat a diet low in saturated fat to maintain blood pressure and weight.

Idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension needs to be diagnosed and intervened promptly otherwise the disease will be at risk of serious complications. To improve your condition, you should lead a healthy lifestyle, as well as regularly visit your doctor for health check-ups.

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