Pulmonary Hypertension Prevention
In general, making healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, cutting down on salt, eating healthy foods and regular exercise stand as the best preventive measures to avoid forms of this disorder.
Help Reduce Your Risk for Pulmonary Hypertension
Maintaining general good health with proper diet and exercise may lower your chances of developing pulmonary hypertension.
Tests and Screenings for Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension can be difficult to diagnose early. Many signs and symptoms do not appear until months and, sometimes, years after the disorder develops. Even in more advanced stages of the disease, the signs and symptoms of a number of other pulmonary and heart diseases – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure and asthma – mimic those of pulmonary hypertension, so your WellStar physician needs to rule those out before making a diagnosis.
To diagnose pulmonary hypertension, your WellStar physician will take a careful medical history and perform a physical examination. When pulmonary hypertension is suspected, your physician may order a variety of tests or procedures:
- Imaging, such as a chest X-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These imaging procedures help to eliminate other possible conditions causing signs and symptoms similar to those of pulmonary hypertension and to reveal details of your pulmonary arteries and the right ventricle of your heart.
- Genetic testing. If you have a family history of this condition, your physician might screen you for genes linked with pulmonary hypertension.
- Blood tests. These tests help rule out other possible diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Echocardiogram. This ultrasound test, which involves placing a transducer on your chest, shows the pumping performance of your heart and measures the size and size and thickness of your heart muscles as well as estimating the pressure in the vessels taking blood to the lung.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram. If it is difficult to get a clear picture of your heart and lungs, your physician may recommend this procedure in which a flexible tube outfitted with a transducer is guided down your throat to get detailed images of the heart and blood vessels.
- Right heart catheterization. If your doctor suspects pulmonary hypertension after examining the results of an echocardiogram, you might undergo this procedure – the most reliable way to diagnose the condition. During the procedure, a cardiologist places a catheter into a vein in your neck or groin and threads it into your right ventricle and pulmonary artery. This allows your doctor to directly measure the pressure in that part of your heart and to gauge how different medications may affect your condition.
- Lung function tests. These tests measure the volume of your lungs, the amount of air you breathe in and out, the rate of your breathing and the ability of your lungs to deliver oxygen to your blood.
- Exercise tests. These test are another procedure to test lung function.
- Perfusion lung scan. This test uses small amounts of radioactive substances to study blood flow (perfusion) in your lungs. Immediately after injecting radioisotopes into a vein in your arm, the doctor uses a gamma camera to take pictures of the blood flow into your lungs. This test is often conducted along with a ventilation scan in which you inhale a small amount of radioisotopes while a gamma camera records the movement of air into your lungs.
- VATS lung biopsy. In rare situations, your physician may recommend this procedure to extract a small tissue sample of your lungs. VATS surgery uses a small camera to see inside the chest, while the surgery is done inside the chest through two small “band-aid” incisions. Advantages of this minimally invasive technique include:
- Less pain
- Shorter hospital stay
- Faster recovery and return to normal function
- Lower infection rate
- Lower complication rate including irregular heartbeats and pneumonia