Carolyn's Collection

A Simplistic Overview of
Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension
Hi Folks,

There have been questions asked recently here on the list and in chat about Pulmonary Hypertension.  
Well, I didn't know much about it either so I decided to go looking and thought I would share with you. I am not a medical professional and this is a very simplistic overview.

First of all, Pulmonary Hypertension has nothing to do with the blood pressure they take on your arm. It is high blood pressure in the arteries that supply the lungs. To picture it in your mind, imagine someone taking your O2 hose or any type of hose with something running through it and kinking it up. 
What happens?  
Your O2 or whatever is running through the hose doesn't get through and the pressure  behind the kink goes higher.  That is what causes Pulmonary Hypertension. That also prevents your O2 from going where it is needed!

Now there are two types of Pulmonary Hypertension, 
Primary Hypertension which is supposed to be rare and most everything I see
on it has to do with infants.   
Then Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension.  
This is the one that we could be dealing with. It is caused by another chronic disease such as COPD, or any other heart or lung disorder.

What are some of the symptoms of PH
>You can get tired, dizzy, or short of breath.  Sounds familiar doesn't it?   Folks with COPD can have these same symptoms so how do we tell which is which?

One of the first things they may do to help diagnose PH is an  electrocardiogram,  CT scan, MRI or heart catherization. There are many more tests they can do and here is a web page that gives you the run down on the various tests.   

Ok now you have been diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension, how do they treat it?  Some of the treatment is exactly the same as for COPD: Oxygen, meds that help your heart pump better, diuretics like lasix, blood thinners are amongst the most common treatment. Sometimes you can even be a candidate for a Lung Transplant.

What can I do to take care of myself?   Here are a few guidelines from the Cleveland Clinic   CLICK HERE

>Know your medications and what they do.  Keep a list of them with you at all times. Make sure your meds are on a regular schedule, do not take them here and there- Try to be consistent. Avoid OTC products unless you discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist - they can interfere or cause problems with your PH medications. The
same goes for any herbal products.

>Eat foods high in nutrients and  fiber such as whole grains, fruits and veggies.

>Limit foods with refined sugar and saturated fats.
Reduce your sodium intake.  Choose labels that say low salt or sodium.  
Avoid table and seasoning salts, smoked, cured, salted,or canned meats.
Also avoid or limit fast food or prepared foods, they are usually high in sodium content.

>Monitor your fluid intake and cut down on fluid if you are more short of breath or have any swelling.  If you gain more then 2 pounds in one day or 5 pounds in a week contact your doctor.  This is very important!

>If you are overweight try to lose.  See your doctors regularly for your annual check ups.

>As far as exercise you should restrict lifting, shoving and pulling to less then 20 lbs .   This is to avoid extra pressure in arteries and lungs

>Do not smoke or chew tobacco. Avoid or cut back on alcohol.

>Walking is as good for PH as it is for COPD. So keep on walking!

This is a very simplistic explanation of Pulmonary Hypertension, its diagnosis and treatment. To get more in depth information you can visit these web sites.

The Cleveland Clinic

The National Institute of Health- MedLine Plus

The Pulmonary Hypertension Association

I hope this helps!

Remember,  Growing old is mandatory but Growing up is optional
And Laughter is still the best Medicine!


Visit the COPD-Support, Inc. Family of Support Programs