Heart - Cardiology & Cardiovascular Surgery

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare disease where patients experience increased pressure in the blood vessels of their lungs. This increased pressure is not the same as the blood pressure that your physician measures (called high systemic blood pressure or systemic hypertension) during routine clinic visit. To identify pulmonary hypertension, you need to see a cardiologist, who will perform an ultrasound and other tests. Pulmonary hypertension affects women twice as much as men and shortens your lifespan. This disease is best treated in a disease management program staffed by a multi-disciplinary team in centers that specializes in pulmonary hypertension.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is shortness of breath or dyspnea which is most commonly experienced with exercise or activities. Other symptoms include:

  • Chest discomfort with activities
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Swollen ankles and legs
  • Depression
  • Dry cough
  • Discoloration of finger tips in cold temperature

Not all patients will feel all of these symptoms at the same time. You may feel one or few of these symptoms.

What causes pulmonary hypertension?

We don’t always know what causes pulmonary hypertension as it can be an end result of several different disease processes. Some of the diseases that can cause pulmonary hypertension include but are not limited to cirrhosis (end stage liver disease), exposure to toxins in the form of medications, connective tissue diseases like scleroderma, HIV, chronic lung diseases, clotting diseases called pulmonary embolism, and heart failure. When we cannot identify the cause, we call it idiopathic pulmonary hypertension.

How is pulmonary hypertension treated?

Research shows that best way to improve your condition is through early identification and immediate treatment which may include a combination of medical, surgical, and other supportive treatments.

At Mount Sinai Heart, we utilize a disease management program, which includes a multidisciplinary group of health care providers who work together to provide you, the patient, with a unified treatment program and continuous care.

Why Mount Sinai Heart?

U.S. News and World Report has ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital #8 in the country for cardiovascular care. Our pulmonary hypertension program offers state-of-the-art comprehensive medical and surgical care. Our multidisciplinary staff includes heart specialists, lung specialists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and specialists in infectious disease, rheumatic diseases, liver diseases, kidney diseases, and pulmonary hypertension nurse practitioners. In addition, our team of nurses, social workers, and nutritionists help you develop and maintain an optimal diet and activity regimen with plenty of counseling and support. We maintain the highest standard of acute and chronic care, using proven treatments as well as pioneering therapies

Mount Sinai Heart’s pulmonary hypertension program offers aggressive surgical removal of blood clots that can obstruct the blood vessels in the lungs and cause pulmonary hypertension. We perform these surgeries for blood clots that occur suddenly (called acute pulmonary embolism) or those that appear over a period of time (called chronic thromboembolic disease of the lungs or chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension).

Research Focus

We believe that better care comes directly from in-depth understanding of disease processes. As a result, we conduct research projects, exploring such topics as the molecular mechanisms of pulmonary hypertension, new and non-invasive imaging techniques for the evaluation of disease progression and complications, and novel treatment regimens (such as surgical therapy and gene therapy).

Mount Sinai Heart’s pulmonary hypertension program actively participates in aggressive research in those modalities mentioned above to provide our patients with advances in the state of the art and cutting edge therapy.