Pulmonary arterial hypertension, known as PAH, is high blood pressure in the lungs. When you have PAH, the blood vessels in your lungs become thicker and narrower, and blood can no longer flow through them easily. The heart must pump harder to send blood to the lungs for oxygen. Because the heart has to continually work hard to get the blood through the narrowed arterial vessels, it eventually enlarges and weakens.
The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension PAH include shortness of breath, dizziness, swollen ankles, or chest pain. Patients may also feel lightheaded on occasion and sometimes faint because they are not getting enough oxygen. If you have these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional. You may be at risk for PAH and not even realize it. The seven factors increase the possibility of developing PAH:
1. Family history of PAH
If a family member has PAH, your chances of developing it increase. Scientists feel that mutated genes that you may have inherited may be responsible. If it seems to “run in your family,” tell your health care professional.
Being overweight or obese puts you more at risk for PAH and other diseases. When you’re overweight, there is more stress on your body and your heart. Losing weight has helped reduce PAH symptoms as well as increase your overall health.
3. Having a blood-clotting disorder
Chromic blood clots in the lungs can clog up the small arteries in your lungs, making it difficult for blood to be pumped through them. Your heart is forced to pump harder to get the blood to flow through the artery.
4. Exposure to asbestos
Exposure to asbestos may result in high blood pressure in the lungs. Studies have shown that asbestos fibers can cause the lungs’ blood vessels to narrow, causing high blood pressure in the lungs. When this happens, the heart must work harder to maintain blood flow.
5. Congenital heart disease
Congenital heart disease is a heart problem with which you were born. Sometimes surgery can be done to repair the problem. If the problem cannot be fixed, the individual is more susceptible to PAH. In fact, PAH is a relatively common complication of congenital heart disease.
6. Living at a high altitude
The lower air pressure at high altitudes results in arteries in the lungs constricting. As they constrict and become narrower, the heart pumps harder to push the blood through these arteries in the lungs so it can receive oxygen. If you already have PAH, living at high altitudes will aggravate the condition.
7. Use of Weight-loss drugs
The use of drugs taken for weight loss, such as methamphetamines and fen-phen, may cause pulmonary hypertension or worsen it. Note that some of these drugs are no longer available. If you have taken these drugs in the past, you have a higher risk of developing PAH.