Pulmonary Hypertension

University of Maryland Medical Center's Dr. Gautam Ramani laughs with a patient.

The pulmonary hypertension (PH) specialists at the University of Maryland Heart and Vascular Center care for our patients through the entire spectrum of the disease, from the initial diagnosis through treatment and follow up. 

Our robust team, including heart failure specialists and catheterization specialists, work with your referring physician so your care is smooth and integrated. We have a reputation for caring for patients with the most complex forms of PH, including patients that other centers have turned down for treatment. 

What is Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a lung disorder in which the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises far above normal levels. The small arteries of the lung narrow throughout the lungs, making it difficult for blood to flow. The heart has to work harder to pump blood, causing the right side of the heart to become enlarged. Eventually, heart failure may develop.

Learn more about our Pulmonary Hypertension program.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

When pulmonary hypertension occurs without a known cause, it is called idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). This means that there are no other diseases of the heart or lungs causing the high blood pressure.

Most of the time, the cause of IPAH is unknown. Some cases are inherited, called familial PAH.

Causes of Pulmonary Hypertension

Known causes of pulmonary hypertension include:

  • Vascular diseases such as scleroderma, lupus or Crest syndrome

  • Congenital heart diseases such as ventricular and atrial septal defects

  • HIV infection 

  • Liver disease

Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension

Early on, many patients may have subtle or few symptoms, making the diagnosis quite challenging. Symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain, especially during physical activity

  • Weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Fainting

  • Light-headedness during exercise

  • Dizziness (especially when climbing stairs or upon standing up)

  • Leg and ankle swelling

  • Physical characteristics include: enlargement of the veins in the neck, a heart murmur, enlargement of the liver and swelling due to fluid retention in the tissues

Diagnosing Pulmonary Hypertension

Our specialists have years of experience diagnosing pulmonary hypertension. You don’t need to travel anywhere else for your diagnosis and treatment. We coordinate and consolidate all of your care in our medical center. You can also visit our outreach clinics in Westminster, Eastern Shore and Upper Chesapeake to receive the care you need. See all of our locations for more information.

To screen for PH, we perform a series of tests that show how well your heart and lungs are working. This can help us diagnose pulmonary hypertension. Learn more about cardiac diagnosis.

Treatments for Pulmonary Hypertension

PH is a chronic condition that can become life-threatening. In our advanced Pulmonary Hypertension clinic, our team offers both medical therapy and a specialized surgery called pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, or PTE. Features of our clinic include:

  • Advanced procedures: We are one of the few medical centers in the country performing PTE. Learn more about pulmonary thromboendarterectomy

  • Dedicated team: We focus exclusively on PH, with a team that includes dedicated physicians, a nurse practitioner and a research coordinator.

  • Clinical trials: Our patients have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, which means access to the latest drugs and therapies before they are available to the general public.

If medication is not sufficient, and you are not a candidate for PTE, we may recommend a lung transplant evaluation. Learn more about our Heart and Lung Transplant Program.

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 1-866-408-6885.

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