November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month
November is the official Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness month and why?
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive disease affecting the arteries of the lungs. The pulmonary arteries are the vessels that carry blood from the right side of the heart through the lungs.
The pulmonary arteries in people with pulmonary hypertension are being assaulted by three main problems.
Vasoconstriction: the blood vessels are tightening, cell proliferation: the cells on the inside of the blood vessels are multiplying. This causes the vessel to become thicker and stiffer. and blood clots may form inside the blood vessels of the lungs. This further obstructs blood flow.
Healthy vessels start out like open pipes that the blood can easily travel through and as the disease progresses the pipes become more obstructed. As the vessels become narrower the pressure inside the vesssels becomes higher much like when you block the end of a garden hose with your thumb and the water squirts out at a higher pressure. The increased pressure of the blood flow does additional damage to the diseased arteries.
Blood thinners are often used as part of the treatment plan for pulmonary hypertension patients to help prevent small blood clots from forming inside the diseased blood vessels.
The official definition of Pulmonary Hypertension requires specific measurements of the forces involved in the circulation of blood through the body. Unlike general hypertension otherwise known as high blood pressure, pulmonary arterialhypertension cannot be easily measured with a blood pressure cuff. There are several tests such as echocardiograms that may point towards a diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension but right heart catheterization is the only way to definitively measure the required hemodynamics necessary to make the diagnosis.