A Rare Disease Narrows Pulmonary Arteries

Pulmonary hypertension can happen at any age, but it is more common in young adults and women. This rare lung disorder causes the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs to narrow. The narrowing of the artery makes it difficult for blood to flow and increases the pressure in the pulmonary arteries and strains the right ventricle of the heart. Eventually, this can lead to heart failure.

Pulmonary hypertension can be caused by:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Family history
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Medications
  • Obesity
  • Rheumatoid disorders
  • Sleep apnea
  • Blood clots

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension do not usually appear until the disease has advanced and can look like heart failure. Symptoms may include:

  • Bloated stomach (water retention)
  • Confusion and dizziness
  • Passing out
  • Coughing that worsens when lying down
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Feeling full after eating
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swollen feet and legs (water retention)
  • Trouble breathing when laying down
  • Weight gain

The team at Penn State Health will work with you and your family to develop a treatment plan that manages your symptoms and helps protect your heart from further damage. We may perform additional tests to develop your treatment plan, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrogradiogram
  • Imaging tests
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Sleep study

Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Compassion Care for Pulmonary Hypertension

We recognize that no two patients are alike—and neither are your lifestyle goals. We’ll take the time to listen to you and your referring physician, then develop a treatment and rehabilitation plan that best meets your needs. We focus on returning patients to active lifestyles and exploring alternatives to surgery when feasible.

A Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary Team Approach

We offer world-class care for patients with pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary vascular diseases through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program. The team includes dedicated pulmonologists, cardiologists, interventional radiologists and specialty nurses.

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

Learn more about support groups offered