What is Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)?

The heart and lungs are interconnected and work together to bring blood and oxygen to the body. The heart pumps blood into the lungs, where it receives oxygen, then returns it to the heart to be distributed through major arteries throughout the body. In pulmonary hypertension, the lungs’ blood vessels either do not form correctly or become blocked or narrowed over time, causing high blood pressure in the lungs. 

This causes the heart to work harder to pump blood through them, which can lead to heart failure. 

Pulmonary hypertension, often referred to as PH, is a serious condition which can lead to heart damage and trigger symptoms like breathlessness, chest pain or discomfort, fatigue, poor growth, fainting and light-headedness. Symptoms can include:

  • shortness of breath 
  • tiredness 
  • feeling faint or dizzy 
  • chest pain 
  • a racing heartbeat 
  • swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy

How do you get PH?

PH can occur in several ways. It can develop due to genetic abnormalities (sometimes inherited). It can also be related to one or more of the following conditions: congenital heart disease, lung disease, rheumatologic disease, sleep apnea, liver disease, prematurity, blood disorders and exposure to certain drugs (typically in utero). 

In some cases, no cause for the condition is identified, and this is called idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.

What is it like to live with the condition?

PH is often a chronic disease, but the course and severity vary widely and can be influenced by an associated diagnosis or cause. 

Living with it can impact your day-to-day physical and mental wellbeing, relationships, employment and more – everyone is affected differently. Learn more about what it's like to live with PH.


Different groups of pulmonary hypertension

There are five different groups of pulmonary hypertension.

  • Group 1: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) 
  • Group 2: Pulmonary hypertension due to left-sided heart disease 
  • Group 3: Pulmonary hypertension due to lung disease and/or hypoxia 
  • Group 4: Pulmonary hypertension due to pulmonary artery obstructions, including chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) 
  • Group 5: Pulmonary hypertension with unknown and/or multiple causes 

Understanding the five different groups of pulmonary hypertension is crucial for healthcare practitioners. We encourage you to delve into our healthcare professional page to gain a comprehensive understanding of each group, which will ultimately enable you to provide better care to your patients. 

Can it be treated?

PH usually gets worse over time, but treatment can help reduce the symptoms and manage the condition. Treatments will depend on the cause of the condition and the country you live in. To learn more about what treatments are available in your country visit our Find support locally page.