The Cause And Diagnose Of Pulmonary Hypertension
The thickening of the blood vessel walls in the lung causes pulmonary hypertension.
This narrows the space within the vessel through which blood can travel, increasing the pressure.
A complex set of factors leads to the thickening of blood vessels in the lungs, including:
- problems with connective tissue, such as sclerosis
- congenital heart anomalies, or structural issues that have been present since birth
- inherited genetic causes, such as a BMPR2 gene mutation
- the use of drugs or other toxins
- liver disease, such as cirrhosis, which occurs due to scarring of the liver
- long term kidney failure
- pulmonary embolism, wherein blood clots form in or move to the lungs
- sarcoidosis, in which the immune system causes lumps to form in organs throughout the body
- sickle cell anemia
- lung tumors
- metabolic disorders, including thyroid disorders
- left heart diseases, such as heart valve disease and aortic stenosis
- parasitic infection, including tapeworms such as Echinococcus
- lung diseases such as COPD
- regular exposure to high altitudes
A range of factors can cause pulmonary hypertension, and the condition may occur alongside different types of heart or lung disease. As a result, the cause of the pulmonary hypertension can often be difficult to diagnose.
A doctor will ask about family and medical history and carry out a physical exam.
If they suspect that a person has pulmonary hypertension, they will usually suggest a series of tests, including:
- A chest X-ray: A doctor usually combines this with CT or MRI scans to help find the underlying cause of pulmonary hypertension.
- Electrocardiogram: This measures the electrical activity of the heart.
- Right sided heart catheterization: This measures pulmonary blood pressure.
A doctor diagnoses pulmonary hypertension when the pressure in the pulmonary artery is higher than 25 mm HgTrusted Source at rest or 30 mm Hg during exertion.
The 6-minute walk test (6MWT) allows a doctor to assess the progression of pulmonary hypertension and assign a stage to the condition. Staging demonstrates the severity of the condition on a scale of 1 to 4.
Stage 1 refers to a symptomless presentation of the condition, in which physical activity does not cause discomfort. Stage 4 means that a person experiences the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension even while at rest.
The 6MWT measures how far a person with suspected pulmonary hypertension can walk in 6 minutes, as well as how their body responds to the activity.
After staging the condition, the doctor will devise an appropriate treatment plan. They can also use the 6MWT to gauge the outlook of the condition.