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Signs & Symptoms Heart & Vascular

Pulmonary Hypertension
Signs and Symptoms

Pulmonary hypertension is classified into five different types:

  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). This form affects blood vessels in the lungs that carry blood from the heart to the lungs where it picks up oxygen. This category is divided into two types:
    • Primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH) is very rare and can occur for no known reason. In about 10 percent of cases, it's inherited. It most often occurs in young adults and is more than twice as common in women as men.
    • PAH related to exposure to toxins including diet drugs such as fenphen; street drugs including cocaine and methamphetamine; HIV; collagen vascular diseases including scleroderma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis; chronic liver disease; and congenital heart diseases.
  • Pulmonary venous hypertension (PVH). This form is caused by diseases of the left side of the heart, such as heart failure or mitral valve disease. This can increase pulmonary artery blood pressure but usually doesn't become severe PAH.
  • Respiratory system. Pulmonary hypertension can be associated with diseases of the respiratory system including interstitial lung disease, emphysema, asthmatic bronchitis, sleep apnea and chronic exposure to high altitude.
  • Chronic blood clots. Blood clots in the lung blood vessels
  • Blood vessel disorders. Pulmonary hypertension due to disorders directly affecting the blood vessels in the lungs such as parasites, or inflammation of the blood vessels.

There are no specific signs and symptoms in the early stages of the disease. The symptoms that may occur – such as shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain – also are common to many other conditions. Other symptoms that may occur include dizziness, swollen ankles and legs, fainting and a bluish cast to lips and skin.

Over time, pulmonary arterial hypertension can damage your heart to the point of danger and result in complications that can interfere with your daily life. Complications from pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Enlarged right ventricle
  • Blood clots

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.