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Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is abnormally high blood pressure that occurs in the arteries of the lungs (the pulmonary arteries). Some cases of PH have no identifiable cause (idiopathic pulmonary hypertension). However, genetic defects and immune system disease may be contributing factors to the development of this disease.
Another type of PH, called secondary pulmonary hypertension, occurs when the arteries in the lungs become too narrow for blood to flow through the vessels normally or because there are too few vessels to begin with. As a result, the heart works harder to pump blood through the lungs, causing pressure in the pulmonary artery to rise. Narrowing of the vessels in secondary hypertension can be caused by an associated medical condition such as blood clots, congenital heart defects and liver disease.
The first symptoms of PH are typically shortness of breath during mild physical activity, although some patients may have fainting spells, especially with exercise. However, because the symptoms of PH aren’t specific to the condition, it can be difficult to diagnose.
While for most patients there is no “cure” for pulmonary hypertension, certain medications can help lessen symptoms and improve lung and heart function. Careful monitoring by a cardiologist can help your child live as normal life as possible.
Here at Boston Children’s, the mission of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program is threefold:
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”