Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a rare but severe lung disease that affects the pulmonary arteries, causing high blood pressure in the lungs. The pulmonary arteries, which are responsible for transporting the blood from the right ventricle heart to the lungs, become narrowed and blocked due to the disease. To properly pump the blood, the heart needs to work harder, becoming enlarged and weakened, increasing the risk of suffering right heart failure.
There is currently no cure for pulmonary hypertension, but there are treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can help ease the symptoms and extend the life of the patients. In addition to drugs and therapies, patients can also make lifestyle changes that can help them cope with the disease. Eating a healthy diet according to the recommendations of a physician is one of the steps in reducing the risks of complications associated with the disease.
Importance and impact of diet for PH patients
Diet and nutrition are important for everyone since they can determine overall health, but patients who have PH should be particularly aware of what can help reduce risks and improve quality of life. Certain foods and vitamins may interact with medications, causing a buildup of excess body fluid called edema, as well as nausea and discomfort. There are also foods more likely to cause high blood pressure and obesity than others.
The study “Obesity and Pulmonary Hypertension: A Review of Pathophysiologic Mechanisms” reported that 5% of otherwise healthy individuals with a BMI higher than 30 kg/m2 have moderate or severe PH. An unhealthy diet and being overweight or obese can result in flaccid muscles, high blood pressure, cholesterol, as well as secondary diseases like sleep apnea and heart disease. Therefore, patients who already have PH are at higher risk of right heart failure.
Diet tips and recommendations
The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) published a complete overview of diet and nutrition called Pulmonary Hypertension: A Patient’s Survival Guide, including tips and recommendations about the topic. These include:
- Controlling salt and sodium consumption to reduce the possibility of developing edemas.
- Monitoring fluid intake to avoid or decrease swelling and fluid retention.
- Rethinking dietary supplements by considering the effects of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements used and seeking the opinion of a PH specialist.
- Managing nausea and vomiting, which can be side effects of drugs like epoprostenol or treprostinil, by eating small amounts of food at a time, drink plenty of liquids, avoid greasy and fatty foods, and limit high-carb foods.
- Limit the ingestion of stimulants like coffee or alcohol, which can provoke blood pressure irregularities.
- A diet rich in iron, found in red meat and dark, leafy greens, and vitamin C, found in bell peppers, orange, tomatoes and broccoli, can help manage the symptoms of the disease.
- Reduce the intake of vitamin K, which is also found in dark, leafy greens, since too much of this vitamin can compromise the work of the blood-thinning medicine.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.