Pulmonary Hypertension

High Pressure in Blood Vessels

Image of Middle Aged Man Slightly Short of BreathPulmonary hypertension is high pressure in the blood vessels that carry blood into the lungs. This strains the lungs and heart and can lead to serious problems. Some of the most common causes of pulmonary hypertension are:

In children

  • Severe lung problems in a newborn
  • Lung conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or interstitial lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Congenital heart defects
  • HIV infection
  • Other conditions, such as scleroderma, lupus, or sickle cell disease

In adults

  • Lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), advanced bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, or pulmonary fibrosis
  • Liver disease
  • Blood clots in the lung
  • Left-sided heart failure
  • HIV infection
  • Sleep apnea
  • Other conditions, such as scleroderma, lupus, or sickle cell disease


  • Symptoms may come on suddenly. Or, they may come on slowly over time. Symptoms can include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blue lips or fingernails (signs that the body is having trouble getting oxygen)
  • Tiring quickly, especially when active
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • Swelling in the legs or ankles
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Fainting or dizzy spells


Though pulmonary hypertension has no cure, certain treatments may relieve symptoms and slow progression of the disease. Treatment may include:

  • Oxygen
  • Medicine to lower the pressure in the lung blood vessels
  • Medicine to help the body lose excess water
  • Medicine to prevent blood clots
  • Medicine that help the heart beat stronger, pump more blood and control abnormal heart rhythms