What is Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension ?
When the blood pressure within the ‘Arteries of the Lungs’ suddenly increases is when a medical condition known as Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH occurs. It is a disorder that gradually affects your respiratory system and makes it extremely difficult for you to engage in physical activities. Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension also involves the blocking and narrowing of the blood vessels in the lungs. This disease can slowly become so lethal in many individuals that it may even prove to be life-threatening.
What Triggers Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH in An Individual?
Typically, the basic mechanism of action or pathogenesis of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH is narrowing blood vessels within the lungs. It also involves the processes of thrombosis, vasoconstriction, and vascular remodelling. Thus, blocking the blood vessels ensures that pumping blood from the heart via the lungs to the other parts of the body becomes difficult. It eventually led to increased blood pressure in the lungs and restriction of blood flow. The workload on the right side of the heart also increases.
Causative Factors of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH:
Various reasons can cause this medical condition, including even ‘Genetic Factors’. Moreover, there is also a possibility that your doctor will not be able to pinpoint the exact reason behind Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH. When this happens, it is called ‘Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension’. Here then, presenting below some known factors that can trigger PAH in you.
- Blood clotting
- Lupus disease
- Sleep apnea
- Lung diseases such as emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and chronic bronchitis
- Abuse of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine or cocaine
- Congestive heart failure
- Hepatic impairment like liver cirrhosis
- Heart defect at birth
- Family history of the condition
Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)?
Usually, the signs and symptoms of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH, develop very slowly over time. They, however, worsen the more you delay treating them and allowing them to progress. It is also necessary for you to know that it is possible to not recognize signs and symptoms of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH for months and sometimes even for years. Here are a few obvious signs below that, if you observe, must indicate the presence of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.
- Difficulty in breathing or dyspnea
- Chest Pain or pressure
- Ankles and legs swelling
- Dizziness or fainting spells
- The blue colouration of lips and skin is also known as ‘Cyanosis.’
- Rapid pulse rate and irregular, fast heartbeat or palpitations
Treatment and Diagnosis of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH:
Suppose you visit your doctor to observe one sign and symptom such as ‘Shortness of Breath’. It is most likely that your physician may ask you general questions such as: Do you smoke? or When did you notice your symptom? It is on the answer you provide to such basic questions that your doctor may ask you to undergo the tests mentioned below:
- CT scan
- Electrocardiogram or ECG/EKG
- Chest X-ray
- Exercise testing
- Ventilation Perfusion Scan or V/Q scan
Your healthcare specialist or physician may also ask you to do blood tests to check for the presence of medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus that may be the reason behind your Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension or PAH. If the results turn out positive, you will need to undergo a ‘Right Heart Catheterization’ procedure.