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Pulmonary hypertension
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Pulmonary hypertension

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ASTHMA & RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Respiratory System

Pulmonary hypertension begins when tiny arteries in your lungs become narrow or blocked. This causes increased resistance to blood flow in your lungs, which in turn raises pressure within the pulmonary arteries. As the pressure builds, your heart's right ventricle must work harder to pump blood through your lungs, eventually causing the heart muscle to weaken and sometimes to fail completely.

Complications

Pulmonary hypertension can lead to a number of complications, including:

  • Enlarged right ventricle (cor pulmonale). In this condition, your heart's right ventricle becomes enlarged and eventually fails. It occurs when the right ventricle — which is less muscular than the left ventricle — has to pump harder than usual to move blood through obstructed or blocked pulmonary arteries. Initially, the heart tries to compensate by thickening its walls and dilating the chamber of the right ventricle to increase the amount of blood it can hold. But this measure works only temporarily, and eventually the right ventricle fails from the extra strain.

  • Blood clots. These are plugs of platelets — the colorless blood cells that repair injured blood vessels — enmeshed in a network of protein (fibrin) and red blood cells. Clots are the end result of a complex process that helps stop bleeding after you've been injured. But sometimes clots form where they're not needed. Having pulmonary hypertension makes it more likely you'll develop clots in the small arteries in your lungs, further aggravating narrowed or blocked blood vessels.

  • Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This potentially life-threatening condition occurs when increased pressure in the veins and capillaries in your lungs forces fluid out of the capillaries and into the lungs' air sacs, filling your lungs with fluid. This makes it difficult for your lungs to supply your body with oxygen and to eliminate carbon dioxide.

Pulmonary hypertension > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 02:00 AM