Have you dealt with high blood pressure? If so, you may be one of many individuals diagnosed with a serious type of high blood pressure that affects your lungs and heart. This type is called pulmonary arterial hypertension, and it can cause serious health issues, especially if not diagnosed or treated properly.
Thanks to biopharmaceutical research and advancements, medical professionals have made progress in understanding how to better treat this chronic disease.
Learn more about the disease and how its treatments have become more advanced in the post below.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a chronic disease that most commonly affects individuals ages 40 and above, though it can be experienced at all ages. It is more common among women, and people can be more likely to be diagnosed with it based on their genetics, as well as if the patient has other health issues, such as lung disease, congenital heart disease, high blood pressure, or liver disease.
When a person has pulmonary arterial hypertension, they suffer from too much blood pressure in their arteries going from their heart to their lungs. This can cause a narrowing of the arteries to the lung, limiting blood flow and resulting in less oxygen in the blood than necessary.
A person suffering from this disease experiences symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and difficult breathing. Additional serious symptoms such as swelling, chest pain and more occur, as well. Historically, a diagnosis of this disease and the effects of its symptoms required patients to reduce their activity levels.
Diagnosis is made through a variety of tests. Doctors may choose to run EKGs, blood tests, x-ray the individual’s chest, and more to examine the signs of the disease and its severity. As signs point to the disease, more specific tests will be scheduled to confirm the diagnosis.
Historically, doctors have not been able to treat the root cause of this disease, nor cure it. Rather, medical treatments have been provided to patients in order to treat the symptoms of the disease, though the disease itself continues to worsen over time.
Treatments for symptoms have included ones such as:
All of these helped to improve patients’ quality of life, though none extended patient lifespans, which were threatened by the risks of heart and lung failure.
A tremendous amount of research led to a greater understanding of the underlying causes of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Researchers learned that these patients have an excess amount of endothelin-1 (ET-1), a type of peptide that causes blood vessels to abnormally constrict. Medical advancements led to treatments called endothelia receptor antagonists, which can lessen the production of ET-1. Variations of these drugs, available for injection, intravaneous use, or taken orally, have been proven to slow the progression of the disease.
With these advancements, patients now have options to treat both the underlying causes of pulmonary arterial hypertension and the symptoms it causes, leading to a better quality of life and reduced risk of life-threatening effects.
That’s tremendous news for the millions of individuals (15-50 of every million) with this diagnosis!