Open Accessibility Menu

Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic

The Pulmonary Hypertension Clinic at the King’s Daughters Lung Center is here to help you understand your condition and take steps to live the most active, fullest life possible.

What is Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is a serious illness, which can become progressively worse, even fatal, if not properly treated. It is vitally important for affected patients to get appropriate care to treat their symptoms and prolong their lives. Pulmonary hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure in your lungs is higher than normal. It is caused when the pulmonary arteries narrow, leading
to reduced blood flow to the lungs.

Causes include:

  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Birth defects of the heart
  • Blood clots in the lung (pulmonary embolism)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Heart valve disease
  • HIV infection
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood for a long time
  • Lung disease, such as COPD, or pulmonary fibrosis
  • Certain medications
  • Obstructive sleep apnea


Pulmonary hypertension can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are similar to other diseases, such as asthma. For this reason, it may take months to diagnose pulmonary hypertension.

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath or light-headedness during activity
  • Fast heart rate
  • Ankle and leg swelling
  • Bluish color of the lips or skin
  • Chest pain or pressure, usually in the front of the chest
  • Dizziness or fainting spells
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Symptoms often come and go. People with pulmonary hypertension experience good days and bad days.


The following tests my be used in diagnosing pulmonary hypertension:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • EKG
  • Right heart catherization

Follow-Up Testing

To develop the best treatment plan for you, additional tests will be needed. We will discuss these with you in detail during your clinic visit. Tests that may be needed include:

  • High-resolution CT scan of the chest
  • VQ scan of the lungs
  • Pulmonary function test (PFT)
  • Nighttime oxygen study
  • Laboratory testing

High-Resolution Chest CT

This scan uses narrow-beam X-ray and advanced computer analysis to create very detailed images of your chest and lungs. These high-resolution images allow physicians to see very tiny details that cannot be picked up during a regular CT scan.

VQ Lung Scan

A VQ lung scan shows how the air goes into the lungs. It also shows how blood circulates through the lungs. During the test, you will be asked to breathe in a low-level radioactive material mixed with oxygen. A nuclear camera will scan your lungs while you breathe, and images will be made. During the second part of the test, the technologist will inject a radioactive medication into a vein. Images will again be taken as the medication circulates through the blood vessels in the lungs.

Pulmonary Function Test

A pulmonary function test measures how well you move air in and out of your lungs and how the oxygen enters your bloodstream from the lungs. A complete PFT consists of three tests. You may have the entire series, or only certain parts.

Nighttime Oxygen Study

This study measures the amount of oxygen in your blood as you sleep. The test is also used to diagnose sleep apnea, which is a very common cause of pulmonary hypertension. The nighttime oxygen study is done in your home.


There is no known cure for pulmonary hypertension. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms, avoid complications and prevent more lung damage. It is important to treat medical disorders that cause pulmonary hypertension, such as sleep apnea, lung conditions and heart valve disorders. Many new treatment options for pulmonary hypertension are becoming available.

Your doctor will decide which medications are best for you. You will be closely monitored during treatment to watch for side effects and to see how you are responding. Never stop taking medicines without talking to your doctor or care provider. Some patients are put on blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots in leg veins and lung arteries. People with low oxygen levels in the blood may need oxygen therapy at home.

Other important tips to follow:

  • Avoid pregnancy
  • Avoid heavy physical activities and lifting
  • Avoid traveling to high altitudes
  • Get a flu shot every fall and stay up to date with the pneumonia vaccine
  • Stop smoking

If treatment with medicine does not work, a lung or heart-lung transplant may help some people.

Related Locations