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Pulmonary Hypertension (cont.)

Pulmonary Hypertension Causes

Traditionally, pulmonary hypertension is divided into two classes; 1) primary, and 2) secondary.

Primary pulmonary hypertension is not caused by any other underlying condition.

Secondary pulmonary hypertension is caused by other underlying conditions, such as:

  • recurring blood clots in the lungs,
  • left-sided congestive heart failure,
  • long-standing (chronic) lung diseases,
  • illicit drug use,
  • certain medications,
  • some rheumatologic conditions, or
  • inflammation of the pulmonary blood vessels.

More specifically, pulmonary hypertension may be caused by:

  • chronic (long-standing) lung disease, such asemphysema or chronic bronchitis (also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD), obstructive sleep apnea, cystic fibrosis, or other chronic lung diseases.
  • congestive heart failure.
  • recurrent blood clot formation in the pulmonary arteries or blood clots traveling from the legs to the pulmonary arteries may result in pulmonary hypertension (chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension).
  • some rheumatologic conditions, such as scleroderma (systemic sclerosis), rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.

Other less common causes of secondary hypertension include:

Secondary pulmonary hypertension is much more common than primary pulmonary hypertension.

There is also a newer classification of this condition, which is more complex. In this system, pulmonary hypertension may be divided into five basic groups based on whether the underlying cause is:

  1. lung disease,
  2. heart disease,
  3. vascular (blood vessel) disease,
  4. blood clots, or
  5. compression on the blood vessels from outside the vessel.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2014

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