Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a condition that affects the arteries of the lungs and the right side of the heart. In some cases, the capillaries and pulmonary arterioles can become blocked, narrowed, or destroyed. As a result, blood has difficulty flowing through the capillaries, which increases the blood pressure level. Family history and poor lifestyle choices are essential causes and risk factors for this condition.
Factors that increase the risk of pulmonary hypertension include the following:
1. Signs of pulmonary hypertension
Many people do not demonstrate any symptoms during the early stages of pulmonary hypertension. However, a few common signs of this condition include:
- Shortness of breath
- A prolonged feeling of fatigue
- Chest pain
- Heart failure
- Heart palpitations
- Abdominal swelling, or swelling of the legs, arms, or ankles
- Chalkiness of the skin at the fingertips
2. Causes and risk factors for pulmonary hypertension
There are several causes/risk factors for pulmonary hypertension that vary significantly in patients. People of all races, ages, and ethnic backgrounds can develop this condition because of their lifestyle choices. However, a few common causes/risk factors for pulmonary hypertension are:
- Obesity and sleep apnea
In obstructive sleep apnea, there is a sharp decrease in the level of oxygen during sleep. Obesity may not be the sole reason for developing this disease. But obesity, along with sleep apnea, can cause the development of mild PH.
- Family history
Family history is significant for many diseases, especially when it comes to any heart-related issues. If one’s family has a history of pulmonary hypertension, then there is a higher risk of developing the same. One can opt for genetic counseling to check on these issues. This would help them diminish the risk factors of getting the disease.
Two significant PH types — Idiopathic PH and heritable PH — are more common in women than men. A woman of childbearing age is also more vulnerable than men.
Pregnancy can increase the risk of PH in women. Women who already have a history of this disease have a higher risk of mortality during their pregnancy.
One of the essential causes/risk factors for pulmonary hypertension is traveling to higher altitudes and weather conditions. One is more susceptible to PH if they live at a higher altitude.
- Drugs and toxins
Certain medications, such as methamphetamines, and the diet drug fen-phen, are significant risk factors of PH.
- Smoking and consumption of alcohol
Smoking and drinking alcohol may not be direct risk factors of this condition, but they do help to intensify the effects of the condition.
- Other diseases
PH can also develop in many people with other diseases such as lung disease, connective tissue disorders, congenital heart disease, liver disease, etc.
Some kinds of pulmonary hypertension can be fatal. Even some forms aren’t fully curable, but in many cases, proper treatment can help to improve the condition. It is important to know the actual causes/risk factors for pulmonary hypertension in order to treat the disease effectively.