Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a rare condition that causes high blood pressure in the blood vessels connecting the heart and lungs (the pulmonary arteries).
When a person develops PH, the walls of the pulmonary arteries become stiff and thickened, or blocked by blood clots. This makes it difficult for them to expand; and trying to pump blood through these tightened, narrowed, scarred or blocked arteries puts increasing strain on the right side of the heart as it tries to do its job. The essential task of pumping blood into the lungs to pick up oxygen which can then be circulated to every cell in the body becomes much harder.
PH is a serious medical condition, and should not be confused with hypertension (high blood pressure). It affects people’s abilities to carry out basic tasks and get around, and it can affect their emotional wellbeing too.
People with PH often look well at rest and it’s only through a simple activity such as climbing the stairs that they may experience symptoms including breathlessness, chest pain, and fatigue. PH can also cause blackouts (fainting) and swelling in the ankles, arms, or stomach area.