If you are diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, your doctor will determine your treatment plan based on the cause of disease, if it is known. Your doctor may recommend healthy lifestyle changes, medicines, or other treatments aimed at keeping your symptoms from getting worse, increasing your ability to exercise, improving heart function, and ensuring a better quality of life. There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension unless chronic blood clots in the lungs are the cause.
Healthy lifestyle changes
Depending on the cause of your pulmonary hypertension, your doctor may recommend healthy lifestyle changes.
- Heart-healthy eating, which includes eating less salt, to lower blood pressure or cholesterol if high levels of these contributed to the cause of your pulmonary hypertension. Eating less salt will help control your body fluids and may improve heart function.
- Physical activity as recommended and supervised by your doctor
- Physical rehabilitation to improve your ability to exercise and also boost your quality of life
Medicines to treat pulmonary hypertension may include:
- Anticoagulation or blood thinners to prevent blood clots in people whose pulmonary hypertension is caused by chronic blood clots in the lungs. These thinners also can help some people who have pulmonary arterial hypertension, heart failure, or other risk factors for blood clots.
- Digitalis, or digoxin to control the rate blood is pumped throughout the body.
- Vasodilator therapy to relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure in the pulmonary artery most affected in people who have pulmonary arterial hypertension. This includes calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine and diltiazem, as well as newer groups of medicines called endothelin receptor antagonists and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors.
Procedures and therapies
Your doctor may recommend a procedure, surgery, or therapy to treat pulmonary hypertension.
- Oxygen therapy if oxygen levels in the blood are too low.
- Balloon atrial septostomy to decrease pressure in the right heart chambers and improve the output of the left heart and oxygenation of the blood. In this procedure, a small hole is made in the wall between the right and left to allow blood to flow from the right to the left atrium.
- Balloon pulmonary angioplasty to lower the blood pressure in your pulmonary artery and improve heart function in people who cannot have a pulmonary endarterectomy.
- Pulmonary endarterectomy surgery to remove blood clots from the inside of the blood vessels of the lungs.
Treatments for other conditions
Your doctor may recommend medicines or procedures to treat the condition that is causing your pulmonary hypertension.
- Blood pressure medicines such as angiotensin-converting enzymes inhibitors, beta blockers, or calcium channel blockers when left heart disease is the cause
- Blood transfusions or hydroxyurea to treat sickle cell disease
- Heart valve repair
- Iron supplements to increase blood iron levels and improve anemia
- Research for Your Health will discuss how we are using current research and advancing research to treat people with pulmonary hypertension.
- Participate in NHLBI Clinical Trials will discuss our open and enrolling clinical studies that are investigating treatments for pulmonary hypertension.
- Living With will discuss what your doctor may recommend, including lifelong lifestyle changes and medical care to prevent your condition from recurring, getting worse, or causing complications.