November 18, 2008

PH Awareness Blogging Day

PH: the other High Blood Pressure
Parts of today's info is from our "Patients Survival Guide"

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) means high blood pressure inside the lungs (pulmonary means concerning or involving the lungs). The blood pressure measured by a cuff on your arm is called the "systemic" blood pressure, and reflects the pressure between the left side of your heart and the rest of your body (excluding your lungs). Pulmonary hypertension (PH), on the other hand, is more difficult to diagnose and more challenging to treat.

The circulation of blood in your lungs encounters only a fifth of the resistance that circulating blood encounters elsewhere in your body. The vessels in your lungs are very sensitive to increases in pressure: they don't like it, and they respond in complex ways. This response initiates the PH process. PH affects your heart as well as your lungs, but unless your PH is caused by another disease, it appears to start in your lungs. The walls of the blood vessels that supply the lungs get thicker and often constrict. This shrinks (or blocks off) the opening inside them and makes them unable to carry as much blood. It's kind of like what happens when you attach a nozzle to a garden hose: instead of water just sliding our of the hose and falling to the ground, it quirts out with such force that is can knock the leaves off a plant 6 feet away. It can do damage.

As you tighten the nozzle, you might notice the hose itself getting stiffer because of back pressure. This is like what happens when blood can't get through your lungs - the pressure backs up all the way to your heart, which pumps harder and harder to try to push the blood through. Eventually, your heart just can't keep up, and there is less blood circulating through your lungs to pick up oxygen. You become tired, dizzy and short of breath.

Your Over Worked Heart

The heart is divided into four pumping chambers. It is the right side of a PH patients heart that usually has problems. The bottom chamber, called the right ventricle (RV), pumps de-oxygenated blood through the pulmonary valve and into the pulmonary artery, which divides and carries blood to both lungs. If you have PH, your right ventricle has to work so hard to force blood through blocked lung vessels that it bulks up. The RV is not designed to do such hard work; normally the pressure inside it is only 20 to 25 percent of that in the left ventricle.

When pressures remain too high for too long, the RV becomes so stretched out that it cannot contract effectively. This is called congestive right-heart failure or cor pulmonale. ("Failure" does not mean that the heart has stopped, it means that it can't pump our all the blood in it into the lungs.) When your RV fails, there is a backup of pressure into veins throughout your body, and you swell with fluid, especially in your legs, liver, abdomen, and the spaces in your chest surrounding your lungs. In PAH, your right atrium also tends to get bigger, because of back pressure from the RV.

There is good news: when the pressures in your lungs lessen (because of medications or a transplantation of a new lung or both lungs), your heart tends to return back to its normal size. Perhaps after treatment, you may no longer have congestive heart failure. But if your heart has been stressed so long that scar tissue has formed in its structure, it is still damaged.

There is so much information on PH that one person alone can not tell it all please visit our site at and learn as much as you can, you can also visit some of the my friends' site under "My Unique Phriends", (right hand side of the page) they to share alot of on PH as well. there are so many people are suffering with this disease you wouldn't imagine. From infants to adults. Please pray many are in need of a cure or touch from God.

My Personal note:

I have PH caused by the blood clots that went from my heart to my lungs. I make blood clots due to lupus anticoagulant (an autoimmune deficiency) I have, so for now my treatment is to take blood thinners called Warfarin daily to prevent more clots in my lungs. I also have to take water pills (lasix) to help with fluid build up. I am not on medications to treat PH because they still have to rule out if I have a heart problem or just a lung problem or both. PH is VERY hard to diagnose, I first learned about PH in March 08' when I was told I had it.

The Drs. have to keep testing me so that they can figure out what which medications are right for me. Not every medicine out there for PH is for every one - certain medicine are for certain things. But once they diagnosed you with PH, you need to find a PH specialist who deals with PH. At our web site you can find a specialist in your area by going to the section that says "Find a Doctor". Both my heart dr. and PH dr. are working hand in hand to get the proper treatment for me.

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