What is Pulmonary Hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a lung disorder in which the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises far above normal levels. The small arteries of the lung narrow throughout the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension is the result of greater resistance to blood flow. As a result of the increased workload caused by this resistance, the right side of the heart becomes enlarged. Eventually, progressive right heart failure may develop.
When pulmonary hypertension occurs without a known cause, it is know as Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (IPAH)---meaning that there are no other diseases of the heart or lungs causing the high blood pressure.
The cause of IPAH is unknown. Some cases are inherited and that is known as familial PAH.
This disease is rare, but affects people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. It affects more women than men.
There are other forms of PAH where the cause is known. A common cause is collagen vascular diseseas such as scleroderma, lupus or Crest Syndrome. Congenital heart diseases such as ventricular and atrial septal defects, HIV infection, and liver disease are also possible causes of pulmonary hypertension.
For more information on pulmonary hypertension, visit the Pulmonary Hypertension Association Web site.