Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a disease characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs that affects the vessels responsible for transporting blood from the heart to the lungs, which are called pulmonary arteries. It is a rare, life-threatening disease, with higher incidence among women and older people. Due to the disease, the pulmonary arteries become narrowed and thickened, making the heart work harder to properly pump the blood. Since the heart is under stress, it can result in enlargement and weakening of the organ.
Symptoms from the disease include shortness of breath (dyspnea), fatigue, dizziness or fainting spells (syncope), chest pressure or pain, swelling (edema) in the ankles, legs and abdomen (ascites), bluish color of the lips and skin (cyanosis) and irregular heartbeat. However, in addition to experiencing these symptoms, patients are also more predisposed to the development of other medical conditions like pneumonia.
Development And Diagnosis Of Pulmonary Hypertension And Pneumonia
Patients diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension have their heart and lungs compromised, being more susceptible to the development of additional lung disorders. This is why patients are advised to get a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine and yearly flu vaccines to avoid suffering from pneumonia. Similarly, the majority of patients with severe and prolonged pneumonia end up suffering from pulmonary hypertension due to lung instability, as explained in the study “Variable prevalence of pulmonary hypertension in patients with advanced interstitial pneumonia.”
Shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain are symptoms common to the two diseases, which can make it difficult to identify the secondary disease. However, fever, sweating, shaking chills, coughing and phlegm, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea are symptoms only associated with pneumonia. When a patient experiences these or other abnormal symptoms, he/she should seek out a physician since a secondary disease can exacerbate pulmonary hypertension.
Treatment And Prognosis Of Pulmonary Hypertension And Pneumonia
Pneumonia is the cause of death in patients who suffer from pulmonary hypertension in seven percent of the cases, since the lungs cannot tolerate pulmonary infections, according to the study “Guidelines on diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension.” This is why early detection and proper treatment are important in patients with pulmonary hypertension and pneumonia. Vaccination is recommended to prevent it, while any persistent fever in patients with IV catheter for continuous administration of epoprostenol should raise the suspicion of infection.
Following diagnosis, patients are usually administered antibiotic therapy to treat infections. Children are particularly at risk since their reactive pulmonary vascular bed is greater than the adults, which means that an infection affecting the respiratory can cause ventilation/perfusion mismatching from alveolar hypoxia, which can cause severe consequences, including death. Therefore, children are recommended to be hospitalized to have antibiotic therapy if diagnosed with pneumonia.
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