Pulmonary Hypertension Treatment
How is Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Treated? The goals of treatment for patients with PAH are to:
- Treat the underlying cause. This is the first priority in patients with SPAH. Sometimes this treatment can correct the PAH.
- Reduce symptoms and improve quality of life;
- Slow the growth of the smooth muscle cells and the development of blood clots; and
- Increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, while reducing its workload
Pulmonary Hypertension Medication
The main medicines are:
- Anticoagulants (an-ty-ko-AG-u-lants), which reduce the formation of blood clots.
- Calcium channel blockers, which relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, while reducing its workload. These drugs can be very helpful, but only for a minority of patients. All patients who take them should be monitored carefully.
- Epoprostenol (Prostacyclin präs-t&-'sI-kl&n) is currently considered the most effective therapy for PPH. It may also be helpful in treating some forms of severe SPH. This medication widens the lung arteries and prevents blood clot formation. Until recently, it was given intravenously through a permanent tube, or catheter, placed in a vein in the neck and connected to a battery-powered pump. But in December 2004, a new form of the drug, iloprost, was approved for the treatment of PH. This medication can be inhaled through a nebulizer. This makes it more convenient and less painful to take. Plus the medication goes directly to the lungs where it is needed.
- Treprostinil, another prostacyclin, also relaxes blood vessels and increases the supply of blood to the lungs, reducing the workload of the heart. It can be given under the skin.
- Bosentan, a relatively new treatment that widens the lung arteries and reduces blood pressure. It also is available in pill form. Until doctors learn more about the long-term effects, all patients taking this drug should be monitored for complications, especially involving the liver.
- Nitric oxide inhalation, which causes the pulmonary arteries to widen or open, is also being used by some doctors.
- Sildenafil, (Viagra), another drug that causes the pulmonary arteries to open, has recently been shown to improve the condition of PH patients and is expected to be approved soon. This drug is available in pill form.
- Diuretics (water or fluid pills) may help ease symptoms and improve the heart's performance in some patients with pulmonary hypertension.
Oxygen For Pulmonary Hypertension
You may need oxygen therapy if the level in your blood is low. Oxygen is usually given through nasal prongs or a mask. Over time, you may need oxygen around the clock.
Lung Transplantation For Pulmonary Hypertension
Surgery to replace one or both diseased lungs with healthy lungs from a human donor may help some patients. This procedure is usually recommended for patients for whom medical therapy is no longer effective. Complications include rejection by the body of the transplanted lung, and infection. Transplant patients must take medications for life to reduce the chances that their body will reject the transplanted lung.
Other Possible Treatments For Pulmonary Hypertension
Researchers also are studying whether stem cell transplantation combined with gene therapy may provide a cure for PPH in the not too distant future.