This Morning: Dr Chris discusses blood pressure and dementia
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Pulmonary hypertension can develop slowly and when symptoms do occur, they may be attributed to asthma or other lung or heart conditions. The body will often indicate something is not quite right and even before seeing a medical professional, you will be able to spot the early warning signs on your nails, legs or enlarged veins.
Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of your heart.
In some people, pulmonary hypertension slowly gets worse and can be life-threatening.
Although there’s no cure for some types of pulmonary hypertension, treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Because pulmonary hypertension may be caused by many medical conditions, a complete medical history, physical exam, and description of your symptoms are necessary to rule out other diseases and make the correct diagnosis, said the Cleveland Clinic.
It added: “During the physical exam, your healthcare provider will:
Listen for abnormal heart sounds, such as a loud pulmonic valve sound, a systolic murmur of tricuspid regurgitation, or a gallop due to ventricular failure.
Examine the jugular vein in the neck for engorgement (enlargement).
Examine the abdomen, legs, and ankles for fluid retention.
Examine nail beds for bluish tint.
Look for signs of other underlying diseases that might be causing pulmonary hypertension.
In more advanced stages of the disease, even minimal activity will produce some of the symptoms. Additional symptoms include:
- Irregular heartbeat (palpitations or strong, throbbing sensation)
- Racing pulse
- Passing out or dizziness
- Progressive shortness of breath during exercise or activity, and
- Difficulty breathing at rest
Doctor Valerie McLaughlin, director of pulmonary hypertension program at the University of Michigan Frankel cardiovascular centre said: “This shortness of breath occurs because the right side of the heart is having trouble pushing blood flow through the lungs.
“It puts strain on the right side of the heart, which is not used to pushing against the high pressure.”
When it comes to reducing your risk of developing high blood pressure which could lead to a heart attack, McLaughlin suggested: “Sodium restriction is probably the most important thing. Key, too, is staying active, maintaining a proper weight and quitting smoking.
“It’s also important to maintain contact with your health care provider during treatment and beyond.”
How is it caused?
Your heart has two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). Each time blood passes through your heart, the lower right chamber (right ventricle) pumps blood to your lungs through a large blood vessel (pulmonary artery).
In your lungs, the blood releases carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen. The blood normally flows easily through blood vessels in your lungs (pulmonary arteries, capillaries and veins) to the left side of your heart.
However, changes in the cells that line your pulmonary arteries can cause the walls of the arteries to become stiff, swollen and thick. These changes may slow down or block blood flow through the lungs, causing pulmonary hypertension.
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