If you or your family member or your loved one has been diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) and you want to know more about the disease, causes, symptoms, and treatment medications in Canada, keep reading the article. 

What Is Pulmonary Hypertension PH

Pulmonary Hypertension  is a rare lung disease that affects the arteries in the lung that carry blood from the heart. The arteries become narrow, making the blood flow through it difficult. As the pressure increases in the arteries, it puts strain on the heart’s right ventricle, which causes it to expand. Over the period, the heart becomes overworked and enlarged, making it weaker, and it loses its ability to pump sufficient blood to the lungs, which could lead to the development of right heart failure. 

Pulmonary Hypertension worsens with time and can be life-threatening. Pulmonary Hypertension can occur to women, men, children of any age, or ethnic background. 

Is Pulmonary hypertension common in Canada?

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) has become a significant health issue globally. Pulmonary hypertension is a rare disease; however, it is estimated that approximately 5000 Canadians have been diagnosed with the disease, and as many as 10,000 could be affected by the condition. The prevalence of Pulmonary Hypertension is approximately 1%, but it increases to 10% in people aged 65 and above. 

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Pulmonary Hypertension Symptoms

PH is a slow progressive disease whose signs and symptoms develop gradually. It is possible you may not observe any symptoms initially or for a couple of years. As the disease progresses, the symptoms may worsen and begin to appear. 

The symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension include: 

  • Chest pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Shortness of breath (during exercise or other activities)
  • Fast pulse
  • Palpitations 
  • Swelling in ankles, legs, and eventually the abdomen 
  • Bluish color to lips and skin 

As the disease worsens, you may find it difficult to breathe at rest or carry out any activities. 

What Are The First Symptoms Of Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary Hypertension may not show any symptoms initially; however, the first symptom of PH could be shortness of breath with daily activities like climbing stairs and exercising. It is usually followed by episodes of fainting, fatigue, and dizziness. 

As the disease worsens, other symptoms appear, such as chest pain, swelling in ankles, bluish skin, and lips. 

Pulmonary Hypertension Causes

Sometimes it is not possible to find a cause for Pulmonary Hypertension; in such cases, the condition is defined as idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. In other cases, Pulmonary Hypertension can be caused by the following: 

  • Genetics 
  • Age 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Lung disease (chronic bronchitis or pulmonary fibrosis)
  • Congenital heart defect 
  • Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and other various autoimmune disorders 
  • Liver diseases 
  • Blood clots in lungs 
  • Congestive heart failure 
  • Use of illegal drugs (cocaine or methamphetamine) 
  • HIV

What Is The Main Cause Of Pulmonary Hypertension?

The main cause of Pulmonary hypertension is High blood pressure in the lung arteries due to congenital heart disease, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, connective tissue disease, chronic lung disease and blood clots in the lungs.

How Serious Is Pulmonary Hypertension?

In a few people, Pulmonary Hypertension PH progresses slowly and worsens with time. It can be life-threatening. Pulmonary Hypertension cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Potential complications of Pulmonary Hypertension may include: 

  • Blood clots 
  • Arrhythmia 
  • Pregnancy complications 
  • Right-side heart enlargement 
  • Heart failure 
  • Bleeding in lungs 
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What Are The Four Stages Of Pulmonary Hypertension And How Are They Different?

World health organization classifies Pulmonary Hypertension into four stages based on symptoms:

  • Class 1: The condition does not limit your physical activity, and you do not experience any symptoms during physical activity or at rest
  • Class 2: The condition slightly limits your physical activity, and you experience some symptoms during physical activity, but not at rest 
  • Class 3: The condition significantly limits your physical activity, and you experience symptoms during slight physical exertion and regular physical activity, but not at rest 
  • Class 4: The condition does not let you carry out any physical activity without any symptoms, and you observe noticeable symptoms, even during rest.

Is there a cure for Pulmonary Hypertension?

There is no cure for Pulmonary Hypertension; however, it can be treated. The treatment aims to improve signs and symptoms and reduce the progression of the disease. 

What Is The Best Treatment For Pulmonary Hypertension?

Finding the best treatment for your Pulmonary Hypertension may take some time since the treatments are often complex and require regular follow-ups. Moreover, if Pulmonary Hypertension is caused by another disease, treatment for the underlying cause is preferred. 

Lastly, based on your medical history, age, the severity of the condition, and other concomitant medications, your physician will choose the best treatment. If medications cannot help and control signs and symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension, your physician may recommend surgery to you. 

Various medications to treat Pulmonary Hypertension include: 

  • Endothelin receptor antagonist such as ambrisentan and bosentan
  • High-dose calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine and nicardipine
  • Diuretics 
  • Digoxin 
  • Warfarin 
  • Vasodilators 
  • Guanylate cyclase stimulators such as riociguat
  • Oxygen therapy 
  • Prostacyclin therapy 
  • Phosphodiesterase inhibitors such as tadalafil and sildenafil

Do Inhalers Help Pulmonary Hypertension?

Yes, various inhalers have been approved by Health Canada, US FDA, and WHO to treat PH. They have beneficial effects on lung function, blood gases, and hemodynamics in patients with Pulmonary Hypertension.

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Some common inhalers recommended are Epoprostenol (Flolan), Epoprostenol (Veletri), Treprostinil (Remodulin), Treprostinil (Tyvaso), and Sildenafil (Revatio).

What Foods To Avoid If You Have Pulmonary Hypertension?

It would be best if you tried to avoid foods rich in caffeine (coffee, cola) or alcohol, as they can increase blood pressure. 

It is believed Pulmonary Hypertension is aggravated when there is a lack of iron in your body. So, try to include red meat, leafy vegetables, beans, and greens. 

Does Walking Help Pulmonary Hypertension?

Yes, some light exercises are good, and they may help in Pulmonary Hypertension, such as walking, swimming, light aerobic activity. Light resistance training of small muscles is also suitable for PH. 

However, please do not indulge in moderate to heavy weight lifting as it can raise blood pressure in your arteries and lungs. Always consult your doctor before doing so. 

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