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What's the treatment for pulmonary hypertension?

There is no known cure. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms. Treatment of pulmonary hypertension involves treating the underlying causes, using supplemental oxygen to increase blood oxygen levels, diuretics, blood thinning medications, and medications that dilate blood vessels such as calcium channel blockers.

The first priority is to raise the oxygen level in the blood with oxygen therapy. Low oxygen in the atmosphere causes low blood oxygen levels and aggravates pulmonary hypertension. Therefore, patients with pulmonary hypertension may benefit from breathing supplemental oxygen, even temporarily during air travel or traveling to high altitude destinations. Taking medicines that make the work of the heart easier helps some patients. Anticoagulants, drugs that thin the blood, decrease the tendency of the blood to clot and allow blood to flow more freely. Diuretics decrease the amount of fluid in the body and reduce the amount of work the heart has to do. Calcium channel blockers relax the smooth muscle in the walls of the heart and blood vessels and improve the ability of the heart to pump blood.

In primary pulmonary hypertension, lifestyle changes, digoxin, diuretic, oral anticoagulants, oxygen therapy and vasodilators are the mainstays of treatment. Synthetic prostacyclin (an eicosanoid) per continuous infusion is tried occasionally in some types of pulmonary hypertension. Bosentan (Tracleer), a medication that widens narrowed blood vessels in the pulmonary circulation, and is approved as a treatment for pulmonary hypertension that is taken in tablet form. Intravenous prostacyclin is also used in severe situations. Despite advances in various treatments, there is no cure for pulmonary hypertension.

Pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) is a surgical procedure that is used when pharmaceutical management fails. It is the surgical removal of thrombus (clot) and the lining of the pulmonary artery; it is a large and difficult procedure which is currently performed in San Diego, California. Case series show remarkable success in selected patients. The most effective way to treat pulmonary hypertension is through a single or double lung transplant, but these procedures are also very expensive, and the wait for a lung transplant is too long for many pulmonary hypertension victims. In rare cases, a heart transplant may also be required, but the heart strain is generally reversed naturally following a lung transplant.

More information on pulmonary hypertension

What is pulmonary hypertension? - Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a rare lung disorder in which the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises far above normal levels.
What is primary pulmonary hypertension? - Primary pulmonary hypertension is a rare, progressive disorder characterized by high blood pressure of the main artery of the lungs.
What is secondary pulmonary hypertension? - Secondary pulmonary hypertension is a disorder of the blood vessels in the lungs. It is the result of other lung diseases.
What causes pulmonary hypertension? - Pulmonary hypertension is the result of greater resistance to blood flow. Secondary pulmonary hypertension can be associated with breathing disorders.
What're the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension? - Symptoms of primary pulmonary hypertension include shortness of breath especially during exercise, chest pain, and fainting episodes.
How is pulmonary hypertension diagnosed? - Diagnostic tests for pulmonary hypertension involve blood tests, electrocardiography, arterial blood gas measurements, X-rays.
What's the treatment for pulmonary hypertension? - Treatment of pulmonary hypertension involves treating the underlying causes, using supplemental oxygen to increase blood oxygen levels, diuretics.
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