Pulmonary Hypertension and Ulcerative Colitis

Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is a rare but severe condition that causes high blood pressure in the lungs by damaging the pulmonary arteries. The vessels transport blood from the heart to the lungs, but because of the disease they become narrow and thick. When the normal blood flow becomes compromised, the heart is forced to work under stress to pump blood, which makes the heart weak and enlarged. There are numerous risks associated with this condition, including right heart failure and death.

When the cause of a specific case of pulmonary hypertension is unknown, the condition is known as idiopathic. When the disease is caused by a primary medical condition, it is called associated pulmonary hypertension. Common primary diseases include lung and heart diseases but inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis (UC) which affects the digestive track, can also be a cause.

Development Of Pulmonary Hypertension Due To Ulcerative Colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis included, causes irritation in the digestive tract which leads to diarrhea often with blood or pus, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal pain or bleeding, difficulties in normal defecation, weight loss, fatigue and fever. In addition, the disease can bring about a variety of respiratory complications, as explored in the study “Pulmonary complications of inflammatory bowel disease,” authored by Drs. Steven E. Weinberger and Mark A. Peppercorn.

According to the report: “Case series vary in terms of the proportions of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease who have associated lung disease… . The pathogenesis of pulmonary parenchymal disease and serositis associated with IBD is unknown. However, the more common airway inflammatory changes are thought to represent the same type of inflammatory changes that occur in the bowel.”

The correlation between pulmonary hypertension and ulcerative colitis is not fully disclosed but case studies indicate many instances of IBD- associated lung involvement.

Diagnosis and Treatment Of Pulmonary Hypertension And Ulcerative Colitis

Since patients who suffer from ulcerative colitis are at risk of lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension, patients and physician should be aware of symptoms like 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 in lips and skin (cyanosis), or irregular heartbeat.

There is currently no cure for pulmonary hypertension, but there are treatments that can help patients ease symptoms and extend their lifespan. Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators), endothelin receptor antagonists, sildenafil and tadalafil, high-dose calcium channel blockers, anticoagulants, diuretics, and supplemental oxygen are the most used therapeutic options for patients with pulmonary hypertension. However, a tailored treatment taking into consideration the coexistence of the two conditions, the patient’s characteristics, and other medical information should be discussed with a specialized physician.

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.

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