Short on breath and energy?
If you’re frequently feeling shortness of breath and fatigued—so much so that it affects your daily activities—consider being evaluated for pulmonary hypertension.
The human body has two circulation systems – systemic (delivering oxygen throughout the body) and pulmonary (receiving oxygen from the lungs). Typical hypertension refers to the pressure throughout the body. This is different than pulmonary hypertension, which reflects the pressure the heart must exert to pump blood through the arteries of the lungs. If the pressure is too high, eventually the heart can’t keep up and less blood can circulate through the lungs to pick up oxygen.
Pulmonary hypertension may be a complicating factor in those with established heart and lung disease—but it may also manifest in otherwise healthy individuals, especially women. According to a recent Baylor College of Medicine study, women are four times more likely to develop pulmonary hypertension.
The main symptom of pulmonary hypertension is shortness of breath with exertion. The shortness of breath usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. Often, a person notices he or she can't perform the same activity as before without becoming winded.
Other symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include:
• chest pain
• passing out suddenly
• swelling of the legs (edema)
Early detection is key. The earlier pulmonary hypertension is diagnosed, the more treatment options may be available.