What is pulmonary hypertension?
Pulmonary hypertension is a condition in which there is high blood pressure in the lung arteries. How the disease starts is not always clear, but the arteries become narrow and there is less room for the blood to flow. Over time, some of the arteries may stiffen and become completely blocked. The narrowing of the pulmonary arteries causes the right side of heart to work harder to pump blood through the lungs. Over time, the heart muscle weakens and loses its ability to pump enough blood for the body's needs. The extra stress causes the heart to enlarge and become less flexible. Heart failure is one of the most common causes of death in people who have pulmonary hypertension.
In some cases, pulmonary hypertension is caused by schistosomiasis, a worm infection which is common in Africa and Latin America; and sickle cell disease, a genetic abnormality of blood which is common in persons of African origin.
Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath is the main symptom of pulmonary hypertension. Other symptoms are fatigue, dizziness, swelling in the ankles or legs (edema), bluish lips and skin (cyanosis), chest pain, racing pulse and palpitations.