Pulmonary hypertension is an umbrella term that may describe either a primary, progressive, devastating disorder of the pulmonary vascular system or a complication of an array of medical conditions. Early detection of the former is crucial, as effective treatment is available and can avert an otherwise poor prognosis for these patients.
- The main symptoms of pulmonary hypertension (PH) are progressive dyspnoea, fatigue and exercise intolerance.
- PH can be associated with various cardiac, respiratory and other systemic disorders and is classified into five groups to help streamline treatment decisions.
- Diagnosis of the most severe forms of PH is often delayed because of its nonspecific symptoms, leading to detection at a more advanced stage of disease.
- Expert PH centres specialise in managing patients with Group 1 (pulmonary arterial hypertension) and Group 4 (chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension) disease.
- Patients with Group 2 or 3 PH (secondary to left heart disease or chronic lung disease) are usually managed primarily by a cardiologist or respiratory physician, respectively, although select patients in these groups may also benefit from review in an expert PH centre.