When normal pulmonary pressure is elevated, pulmonary arterial hypertension occurs. (Normal pulmonary pressure is considered 8–20 mm Hg at rest. ) Anything over this range is considered elevated pulmonary arterial pressure. Over time, this increased pressure in the arteries of the lung can lead to heart failure, so it’s important that PAH is treated quickly and efficiently.
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Treatment Options
Pulmonary arterial hypertension has no cure, but with proper treatment, symptoms can be managed to encourage a full and healthy lifestyle. Once diagnosed with high blood pressure in your lungs, you can begin treating your pulmonary hypertension. If it’s determined you have elevated pulmonary artery pressure, your physician will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan. The first step to treating PAH is to find the cause. For example, if the cause of your pulmonary arterial hypertension is lupus, your doctor will first need to treat that condition in order to properly manage and improve your PAH. To see some common causes of increased pulmonary artery pressure, click here.
Oxygen Therapy for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
The most common treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension is oxygen therapy. To understand why oxygen therapy is effective for high blood pressure in your lungs, it’s good to first understand exactly how your heart-to-lung system works.
The lower right chamber of your heart (the right ventricle) picks up oxygen-depleted blood and pumps it to your pulmonary arteries. Then, the blood travels to your lungs to get oxygenated and on to the upper-left chamber of your heart (left atrium). The oxygen-rich blood travels to the lower left chamber (the left ventricle). Finally, the blood is pumped to the rest of your body through the aorta. If you have elevated pulmonary pressure, the right side of your heart is forced to work harder to pump blood through your lungs and to the rest of your body.
Since there is no cure for PAH, the best plan of action is to alleviate the symptoms and reduce the stress on your heart and other organs. Using oxygen therapy for pulmonary arterial hypertension accomplishes this by supplementing your body with oxygen, which decreases the amount of work your heart has to do to deliver oxygen to the rest of your body.
During oxygen therapy, you breathe pure oxygen through fitted prongs inserted into your nose. This will help if you become short of breath with low blood oxygen levels. Some patients require oxygen therapy continuously while others only need it while exercising or sleeping.
Medications for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
The symptoms and effects of high blood pressure in your lungs can improve with the use of medication. If your pulmonary arterial hypertension is severe, your physician may prescribe calcium channel blockers. Calcium channel blockers are medicines that help lower elevated pulmonary artery pressure as well as high blood pressure in other parts of your body.
If calcium channel blockers do not work, other medications for treating high blood pressure in the lungs include:
- Oral medications like Sildenafil (Revatio, Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca)
- IV Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators) like epoprostenol (Flolan, Veletri), or
- Inhaled blood vessel dilators like iloprost (Ventavis)
- Treprostinil (Tyvaso, Remodulin, Orenitram), which can be taken orally, inhaled, or injected through IV
- Endothelin receptor antagonists: endothelin is a substance in the blood vessel walls and can cause them to narrow. ERA medications include bosentan (Tracleer), macitentan (Opsumit), and ambrisentan (Letairis)
- Diuretics (water pills)
Natural Ways to Manage Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
There are many ways you can manage high blood pressure in your lungs. Exercising regularly will help strengthen your heart and lungs, which can increase your overall pulmonary health. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fiber and protein can also encourage and support healthy lungs. Finally, if you smoke, stop! Smoking causes damage to your lungs, so if you have PAH, you aren’t doing them any favors by smoking.
Dr. Michael Czarnecki: Specialized Care for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Dr. Michael Czarnecki—”The Lung Doc”—is a board-certified pulmonary physician by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is trained in all areas of pulmonary health, including the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Whether you suspect you have elevated pulmonary artery pressure or know that you require pulmonary hypertension treatment, Dr. Mike can help. To book an appointment with Dr. Mike, call 423-710-3864 or request an appointment online.