Pulmonary heart disease is a complication of either acute or chronic lung disease. Because it does not develop until the lung disease is at an advanced stage, pulmonary heart disease is difficult to diagnose in an early stage.
When an individual’s lungs are damaged from infection, smoking, or inhaling toxins, or if they develop an embolus, the blood pressure in the arteries leading from the heart to the lungs can increase and force the heart to work harder to get the blood into the lungs to be oxygenated.
Eventually the heart cannot get an adequate supply of blood into the lungs, so the rest of the body begins to suffer from a shortage of oxygen, ant patients experience vertigo, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Pulmonary hypertension leads to pulmonary heart disease when the right chambers of the heart, which are the ones closest the lungs, begin to fail from the effort of trying to force blood into the lungs and the lack of oxygen which is affecting the entire body.
Controlling Pulmonary Hypertension
The best way to avoid pulmonary heart disease is to try and control the pulmonary hypertension. The patient with pulmonary hypertension will have to be kept in as pollution-free an environment as possible, and away form tobacco smoke. Blood thinners, antibiotics to ward off infection, and diuretics to keep the lungs free of fluid are all standard treatments; a low sodium diet is a must. While even those measures may be insufficient to ward off pulmonary heart disease, having supplemental oxygen may slow its development.
Symptoms indicating that pulmonary hypertension is leading to pulmonary heart disease include a chronic cough and wheezing, fluid retention in the legs, shortness of breath after physical activity, and pain in the upper right abdominal quadrant. A chest X-ray or FCG can reveal enlargement of the right ventricle.
Treating Pulmonary Heart Disease
The usual treatment for pulmonary heart disease is the same as that for congestive heart failure, in which calcium channel blockers are prescribed to dilate the pulmonary blood vessels and reduce the blood pressure in the lungs. But if the pulmonary heart disease has caused right heart failure, a heart/lung transplant is the only viable treatment.
Because of the stress involved in performing a heart lung transplant, they are usually restricted to younger victims of pulmonary heart disease. Older will be treated with oxygen therapy, dietary changes, and the appropriate medications.