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Pulmonary Hypertension

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03/18/2008

Question:

I am 34 year old female with RA, high blood pressure and Anemia. I was told from an ECHO that I have mild to moderate PH. They also said that one side of my heart was also inlarged. They now think that the PH is what is causing my high blood pressure. I am still waiting to see a cardioloigst for more tests. How common is my situtation? How common is PH in women over men? How common is it for some one in the 30`s? How common is it for someone with RA to also have PH?

Answer:

Pulmonary hypertension is a broad term that includes many disease processes. There are abnormalities in different parts of the heart and lungs that can lead to different types of pulmonary hypertension. Part of being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension includes an attempt to localize where in the heart and lungs the primary problem lies.

For example, in one type of pulmonary hypertension - pulmonary arterial hypertension - the problem lies primarily in the arteries which conduct blood through the lungs. It is this group of patients for which we have specific medications. Because there are multiple types of pulmonary hypertension and it is not clear which type you might have, it is hard to give you information regarding how common it is in a specific age group or gender.

One form of PH is called IPAH or idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, and you may encounter information about this group over the internet or other resources. This group was traditionally thought to affect primarily young women although newer data suggest that this may not be entirely the case. Regardless, this is a small portion of patients with PH and given your diagnosis of RA, you would not be in this group.

I can tell you that pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is uncommon as an isolated finding in patients with RA. This is not to say that you don't have PH, but rather it should prompt an examination for other causes of PH besides RA. Other causes might include other lung diseases, sleep problems, other heart problems, blood clots, etc.

I hope that this helps.

For more information:

Go to the Pulmonary Hypertension health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Douglas W Haden, MD Douglas W Haden, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University