Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in your lungs that weakens your heart. Treatment by our expert PH team will strengthen your heart and renew your hope.

Let’s get you breathing better.

Cause Unknown

In the U.S., there are an estimated 500 to 1,000 new cases of pulmonary hypertension diagnosed each year, but the actual number of cases is unknown. Pulmonary hypertension sometimes has no known cause, what we refer to as ‘idiopathic.’ Many times, however, other health conditions contribute to the development of pulmonary hypertension, including autoimmune conditions like scleroderma, lupus and mixed connective tissue disease.
Primary lung conditions including pulmonary embolism, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, or COPD (‘emphysema’) and heart conditions including congenital heart disease, atrial septal defect, congestive heart failure and valve problems can also lead to pulmonary hypertension. Regardless of cause, most of our patients have been suffering from debilitating symptoms for months and often years before arriving at our center.

Understanding Pulmonary Hypertension

The following are the most common symptoms for pulmonary hypertension. However, you may experience symptoms differently – and these symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so it’s always best to talk with your doctor. Pulmonary hypertension symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting spells
  • Abdominal bloating and/or leg swelling
  • Bluish lips and skin
  • Chest pain
  • Racing pulse
  • Trouble getting enough air
  • Palpitations: strong throbbing sensations brought on by increased heart rate

Pulmonary hypertension is rarely discovered in a routine medical examination, and in its later stages, the signs of the disease can be confused with other conditions affecting the heart and lungs. Pulmonary hypertension is a diagnosis of exclusion. Diagnostic procedures may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): A test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.
  • Echocardiogram (echo): A procedure that evaluates the structure and function of the heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor that produce a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.
  • Pulmonary Function Tests: Diagnostic tests that help to measure the lungs' ability to move air into and out of the lungs effectively. The tests are usually performed with special machines into which the person must breathe.
  • Perfusion Lung Scan: A nuclear medicine procedure that can detect a blood clot in the artery leading to the lung. This procedure can also assess the function of the lungs.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: A procedure that evaluates blood flow to the heart muscle, blockage of coronary arteries, congenital heart defects, functioning of the heart valves, and other heart structures. A small catheter is advanced from a blood vessel in the groin or arm through the aorta to the heart.

Specific treatment for pulmonary hypertension will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the disease and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies. Of course, your personal opinions and preferences will also be taken into consideration. Although there is currently no cure for pulmonary hypertension, we offer some of the most advanced treatment therapies available today. Treatment may include one or more of the following:


  • Anticoagulants: These are used to decrease the tendency of the blood to clot and permit blood to flow more freely.
  • Diuretics: These are used to decrease the amount of fluid in the body and reduce the amount of work the heart has to do.
  • Drugs: These are used to help lower blood pressure in the lungs and improve the performance of the heart in many patients.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers/Vasodilators: These are used to improve the heart's ability to pump blood.


  • Balloon Pulmonary Angioplasty (BPA) for CTEPH: Depending on the severity of your pulmonary hypertension, heart or lung transplant may also be an option.

Supplemental oxygen. Some patients also require supplemental oxygen delivered through nasal prongs or a mask if breathing becomes difficult.

Our pulmonary rehabilitation programs at INTEGRIS help you by creating individualized plans and education, so you can do more things you enjoy. Support services include:

  • Stress management, relaxation exercises and emotional support
  • Medication management
  • Exercises for physical conditioning programs
  • Assistance with obtaining respiratory equipment and portable oxygen
  • Lung medication
  • Infection control
  • Oxygen and equipment

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