Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Heart Disease:Causes & Risk Factors

The pulmonary arteries carry blood from the heart to the lungs. PAH increases the resistance of blood flow through the lungs. Due to the increased strain the right side of the heart pumps blood less effectively, this can eventually lead to heart failure, known as right ventricular failure.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is defined as mean pulmonary arterial pressure >25 mm Hg at rest and >30 mm Hg on exertion. Symptoms and Signs of PAH generally do not appear until the right side of the heart begins to fail. The causes are many and its diagnosis is done by Echocardiography (ECHO) and other tests if necessary.
PAH can be primary where no known cause is known or secondary where a cause is present. This also is known as idiopathic PAH. Secondary PAH is more common and the cause include:

  1. Mitral valve disease – like stenosis or regurgitation (Mitral Valve lies between atrium and ventricle of heart)
  2. Lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Sleep apnea
  3. Sickle cell anemia
  4. Sarcoidosis

Risk Factors

  • Family History of PAH
  • Use of anti-obesity drugs, dexfenfluramine
  • Prolonged use of cocaine/amphetamines
  • Connective tissue disorders (like SLE)
  • HIV infection
  • Liver disorders
  • Use of cocaine

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