Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the lungs and heart. There are a few different kinds of pulmonary hypertension: For example, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) involves problems in the lung’s blood vessels. Pulmonary hypertension caused by left-sided heart disease involves the heart’s left valves or pumping chamber.

In every type of pulmonary hypertension, the heart has to work harder than it should to pump blood into the lungs. This strains the heart, and causes it to enlarge and thicken over time.

Pulmonary hypertension is a serious condition that involves the whole body. Although there are a lot of kids with pulmonary hypertension, not a lot of pediatric health systems specialize in treating it. Connecticut Children’s is one of the few.

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is often mistaken for other health issues, like asthma or being out of shape. The most common symptoms are related to breathing. They include:

  • Trouble breathing, especially during activity
  • Tiring easily
  • Fainting spells
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Bluish or greyish lips, skin and nails
  • Swelling in the lower legs and ankles

What Causes Pulmonary Hypertension?

Sometimes, pulmonary hypertension doesn’t have an obvious cause. Other times, it’s the result of another health issue, including:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Severe forms of lung disease
  • Connective tissue diseas
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Treatment for cancer, liver or kidney diseases
  • In rare cases, passed down genetically from parents

How is Pulmonary Hypertension Treated?

Research is changing what we know about pulmonary hypertension every day. Right now, there’s no cure for it. But there are ways to prevent it from getting worse, and to manage its effects on the body.

Each patient’s treatment plan depends on which type of pulmonary hypertension they have, and any other health issues. Connecticut Children’s specialists in cardiac catheterization and advanced heart imaging use cutting-edge techniques to show exactly what’s going on in the heart.

Our experts in pediatric pulmonary hypertension lead multidisciplinary teams – including experts from rheumatology, pulmonary medicine, nephrology, intensive care, and lots of other specialties – to arrive at the right plan for each patient.

  • Medication to lower blood pressure in the lungs
  • Medication to help the heart work better
  • Medication to improve blood flow to the lungs
  • Medication to get rid of extra fluid in the body
  • Medication to reduce blood clots in the lung’s blood vessels
  • Oxygen to help with breathing

Sometimes, transplant evaluation (heart and lung).

Patients with pulmonary hypertension need regular, lifelong care from doctors who specialize in their condition – like the team at Connecticut Children’s Heart Center.

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