Living with Pulmonary Hypertension
Feb 25, 2019
Pulmonary Hypertension is a rare disease that causes high blood pressure in the lungs and heart. In such condition, the heart has to work harder so that blood is pumped to lungs properly. The normal pulmonary arteries of the lungs are elastic but in case of PH, the arteries become stiff and thick which makes the blood difficult to pass through the vessels. Pulmonary Hypertension can result in shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, fatigue, bluish colour of lips, and edema in legs, ankles and abdomen and irregular heartbeat.
Presently, there is no cure of the disease but the people living with pulmonary hypertension can follow certain steps to improve the quality of life. PH, if untreated, may lead to death over the months to years. However, with a proper treatment, the survival of patients can be improved to a certain extent. Some important steps include an exercise regime, losing weight and quitting smoke. In addition to these, the healthcare provider can also recommend oxygen therapy, medication and other treatments, depending upon the severity of the disease.
Ongoing care for patients living with Pulmonary Hypertension
After the disease is diagnosed, the patients with PH may have different lives. The doctor may need to examine the patient at least every 3-4 months in the beginning. Regular testing will be done that includes 6 minute walking and echocardiograms. Yearly right heart catheterizations can also be performed to evaluate the effect of treatment on heart and lungs function.
The patient needs to follow the treatment suggested by the doctor. The treatment may include pills to be taken once or thrice a day or medications through IV line using a pump. The underlying cause and the extent of the disease will decide how well the patient responds to the treatment. The patients should also know about the symptoms that need emergency treatment and the medications that need to be taken at that time.
Along with the physical signs; the patients should also note their emotional signs that include stress, anxiety and depression in such condition. The PH patients can also be prescribed antidepressant medications in case of depression.
Recommendations for improving Pulmonary Hypertension
Changes in lifestyle of PH patients are important to improve their quality of life. The changes required will depend on the extent of the disease diagnosed and following recommendations can be suggested by the doctor to improve pulmonary hypertension.
1. Take timely medications: Never run out of medications and take them on time. Do not stop any medicine without consulting your doctor.
2. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight: Having a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, fat-free milk products, fish, meat, whole grains will help the patients with PH to maintain a healthy weight. Also, the consumption of salt, fat and added sugar needs to be limited as it can cause heart failure.
3. Quit smoking: Smoking can put strain on the heart and lungs; therefore, quitting smoking is the best thing that a PH patient can do to prevent the symptoms from worsening.
4. Monitor your weight: Patients living with pulmonary hypertension should keep a track of their weight to check any fluid retention and should immediately consult their doctor if there is a rapid increase in the weight. This can be an alarming sign of worsened PH. Any increase in weight can be a symptom that some adjustment is required in the medications of patient.
5. Stay physically active: Patients with PH should stay physically active to keep their muscles strengthened. However, the extent of physical activity that can be safely performed should be discussed with doctor. Avoid taking saunas, lifting heavy objects and hiking to high-altitude areas.
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