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Pulmonary Hypertension (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension may go undetected and undiagnosed for some time. However, once the diagnosis is made, close monitoring is usually necessary and advisable. Patients with pulmonary hypertension are generally cared for by lung doctors (pulmonologists) and heart doctors (cardiologists).

Pulmonary Hypertension Exams and Tests

The diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension requires clinical suspicion based on the signs and symptoms as described above, a detailed medical history and physical examination, and evaluation of other conditions that may lead to pulmonary hypertension.

The best available test (gold standard) for diagnosing pulmonary hypertension is a right heart catheterization and measurement of blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries.

  • In this test, a catheter is inserted into the right side of the heart via one of the large surface veins (femoral vein in the groin or subclavianvein under the clavicle).
  • The catheter is connected to a pressure monitor and can measure the pressure in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary blood vessels.
  • This is an invasive test and usually done in specialized centers or university hospitals by highly trained physicians.
  • Pulmonary hypertension is diagnosed if the pressure in the right heart catheterization is greater than 25mmHg. Depending on how high the pressure is, the condition may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe pulmonary hypertension.

Another less invasive method to measure pulmonary artery pressure is by an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart). An echocardiogram can estimate the blood pressure in the pulmonary blood vessels. It can also provide a visual image of the chambers and valves of the heart as well as show the functioning of the heart.

Typically other tests are performed to diagnose the underlying disease associated with pulmonary hypertension. These tests may include electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG), chest X-ray, CT scan of the chest, and a variety of types of blood tests pertinent to the underlying conditions.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/5/2016

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