The term pulmonary hypertension (PH) refers to high blood pressure in the lungs. While in regular hypertension (also known as high blood pressure), the arteries throughout the body are constricted; PH affects only the blood vessels in the lungs and the right side of the heart. PH may be the result of:
- Disease of the pulmonary arteries
- Left heart failure
- Lung disease
- Pulmonary embolism
- A combination of these factors
PH is very uncommon and is listed as a rare disease. Whether the PH arises from cardiac, pulmonary or vascular disease, it generally is a feature of advanced disease. Since the causes of PH are so different, it is very important that the cause underlying the PH be clearly determined before starting treatment.
PH is a progressive disease, which makes the heart weaken over time causing patients to feel out of breath with minimal activity, and may eventually lead to heart failure and death. Although published reports cite that five-year survival for PH may be less than 60 percent, there are treatment options available that have improved survival considerably.
The Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is among the largest and most advanced treatment and research programs in the country for treating patients with PH. Our program is honored to have received national recognition from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) as a designated PHA-accredited “Center for Comprehensive Care,” the only one of its kind in Illinois.
Criteria for this esteemed designation emphasize the experienced staff, comprehensive facility resources, evaluations of PH patients based upon consensus guidelines, access to all PH specific therapies, overall experience in treating PH and participation in clinical research. Clinical research efforts include expanding treatment options that are aimed to increase patient survival and improve quality of life.
The following Northwestern Medicine physicians are leaders within the Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program and can be reached at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).