Do you suffer from shortness of breath on exertion without any cause having been identified? It can be pulmonary hypertension, a severe and serious condition when it takes the form of pulmonary arterial hypertension, which can lead to heart failure.
Pulmonary hypertension (HTP) is a disease characterized by abnormally high blood pressure in the small pulmonary arteries, which opposes the flow of blood to the lungs. To compensate, the heart’s right ventricle, which sends blood to the lungs for re-oxygenation, must work harder. When it is no longer successful, respiratory discomfort on exertion appears. At an advanced stage, the patient can develop heart failure, which is fatal in the short term if it is not taken care of.
Pulmonary hypertension may or may not be associated with various conditions, in particular cardiovascular or pulmonary. Specialists distinguish five forms of the disease involving different mechanisms, corresponding to different causes.
Group 1: pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH. This rare and severe disease can be fatal within a few years. It is due to a remodeling of the lining of the pulmonary arteries, causing it to thicken. It often occurs without an identified cause (idiopathic PAH) or in a hereditary context (familial PAH), but can also be linked to certain diseases such as congenital heart problems or HIV infection. It can also be induced by drugs or toxins.
Group 2: pulmonary hypertension due to left heart disease
Group 3: pulmonary hypertension associated with respiratory diseases and / or hypoxia (lack of oxygen supply to tissues). It results, for example, from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory sleep pathologies or developmental abnormalities.
Group 4: pulmonary hypertension linked to chronic thromboembolic disease. It is the obstruction of the vessels by a blood clot that is the cause.
Group 5: other causes: sarcoidosis, tumors compressing the vessels, chronic kidney disease, etc.
Dyspnea on exertion (shortness of breath on exertion)
Pulmonary hypertension is expressed by shortness of breath on exertion. At the beginning, the respiratory discomfort manifests itself during a little sustained effort (climbing the stairs…). Then the daily physical activities become difficult, and soon the breath runs out at the slightest movement.
This shortness of breath can cause discomfort (dizziness, vertigo, etc.).
Affected subjects are very fatigable due to the poor supply of oxygen in the blood.
As the disease progresses, various other symptoms may appear:
Pulmonary hypertension requires lifelong follow-up. The therapeutic strategy is based on treating the cause. In the absence of an identified cause, the prognosis is poorer because there is no cure. However, thanks to significant progress in recent decades, various treatments now make it possible to relieve the symptoms of the disease and to slow down its progression.
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