After you are diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, it is important to follow your treatment plan, get regular care, and learn how to monitor your condition. Taking these steps can slow down the progression of the disease and may improve your condition. Your specific treatment plan will depend on the cause of your pulmonary hypertension, as well as how advanced it is.
Receive routine follow-up care
Your follow-up care may include recommendations such as these:
- Participate in support groups, counseling, and education efforts that can help you manage the activities of daily living, experience a successful pregnancy, and generally improve the quality of your life.
- Get the recommended vaccines, which often include a vaccine for pneumococcus and an influenza, or flu, shot every year at the start of flu season.
Return to Treatment to review possible treatment options for your pulmonary hypertension.
Monitor your condition
Talk to your doctor about new or concerning symptoms. People who have pulmonary hypertension may need regular tests. Your doctor may recommend the following to monitor your condition and treatment response:
- Six-minute walk test to monitor your ability to exercise
- Blood tests to check hemoglobin, iron, and electrolyte levels; kidney, liver, and thyroid function; your blood’s ability to clot; and signs of stress on the heart
- Cardiac catheterization
- Cardiac MRI to monitor your heart’s size and how well it is working
- Chest X-ray
- Echocardiography to monitor your heart’s size and how well it is working, and measure the pressure in your right heart chambers
- Electrocardiogram to check for irregular heartbeats
- Pulmonary function tests to check for any change in your lung function
If your pulmonary hypertension is severe or does not respond to treatment, your doctor may talk to you about a lung transplant or a heart and lung transplant.
Prevent complications over your lifetime
To help prevent some of the complications of pulmonary hypertension, your doctor may recommend the following.
- Make heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as heart-healthy eating if your pulmonary hypertension is due to heart failure from ischemic heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Engage in regular physical activity. Before starting any exercise program, ask your doctor about what level of physical activity is right for you.
- Avoid high altitudes when possible and discuss with your doctor any plans for air travel or visits to places at high altitude.
- Talk to your doctor if you are planning to get pregnant, as there is an increased risk of pregnancy complications.
- Treat other medical conditions, such as COPD, heart conditions, and sleep apnea.
Learn the warning signs of serious complications and have a plan
Even with treatment, pulmonary hypertension may lead to serious complications such as heart failure and arrhythmias. Know the signs and symptoms of pulmonary hypertension and how to recognize the possible complications.
If you are taking a blood thinner, this will increase your risk of bleeding. If you experience any abnormal bleeding, such as blood in your stool, black stool, or coughing up blood, contact your doctor right away. If you fall while taking a blood thinner, you are at higher risk for bleeding inside your head. Let your doctor know if you have fallen while taking a blood thinner.
Some treatments for pulmonary hypertension must be given through a long-term intravenous (IV) line. Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, or yellow discharge where the IV is inserted; a fever of 100.3°F or higher; and chills.