Pulmonary hypertension is raised blood pressure withinthe pulmonary arteries, which are the blood vessels that supply the lungs.

It's a serious medical condition that can damage the right side of the heart, making the heart less efficient at pumping blood around the body and getting oxygen to the muscles.

Symptoms ofpulmonary hypertension include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • chest pain ( angina )
  • a racing heartbeat ( palpitations )
  • legand ankleswelling

Ifthe right-hand side of yourheart has to continually work harder, it maygradually become weaker. This makes it less efficient at pumping blood and can lead to heart failure .

It's also thought that moreremain undiagnosed.

Pulmonary hypertension can affect people of any age, although some types are more common in young women.

When to see your GP

Correctly diagnosing pulmonary hypertension can sometimes take time,because itssymptoms are similar to many other heart and lung conditions.

However, pulmonary hypertension is a serious condition, so it is importantto visit your GP if you experience symptoms.

Theywill ask about your symptoms and medical history, and may perform a physical examination.

Tests, including an echocardiogram (a type of ultrasound scan) and an electrocardiogram (which tests the electrical rhythm of your heart) can be used to see how well your heart and pulmonary arteriesare working.

Left untreated, it may cause heart failure, which can be fatal.

Ifpulmonary hypertension is caused by an existing condition,the underlying condition should be treated first. In some cases, this can prevent the pulmonary arteries being permanently damaged.

If you have a type of pulmonary hypertension known as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) , you will be referred toa centre that specialises in treating the condition. There are currentlyseven specialist centres inEngland and one in Scotland. They are:

  • Great Ormond Street Hospital (for children), London
  • Hammersmith Hospital , London
  • Royal Brompton Hospital , London
  • Royal Free Hospital , London
  • Papworth Hospital NHS Trust , Cambridgeshire
  • Royal Hallamshire Hospital , Sheffield
  • Freeman Hospital , Newcastle
  • Golden Jubilee National Hospital , Glasgow

A number of medications can be used to treat pulmonary hypertension. Anticoagulant medicines and diuretics may be recommended first. Later on, a number of more specialist medications may beprescribed.

Some people withPAH may be prescribed home oxygen therapy .

It is important that treatment is started as soon as possible, to improve your symptoms.

The outlook varies between individuals depending on factors such as how quickly the conditionis diagnosed, how advanced your symptoms are and whether you have another underlying health condition. The specialist in charge of your care will be able to provide more detailed information.

However, the outlook for pulmonary hypertension has improved with the introduction of new medicines over the last 20 years and people are now able to live longer.

Information about you

If you have pulmonary hypertension, your clinical team may pass information about you on to the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service (NCARDRS).

This helps scientists look for better ways to prevent and treat this condition. You can opt out of the register at any time.

Find out more about the register .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 26 May 2016