Pulmonary Hypertension

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What Is Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in your lungs and the right side of your heart.

If left untreated, the condition could lead to:

  • heart failure, including right-sided heart failure and enragement of the right ventricle
  • blood clots
  • arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • bleeding in the lungs
  • In pregnancy, a danger to the fetus

Unlike regular hypertension, which refers to high blood pressure across the circulatory system, pulmonary hypertension can’t be measured with a blood pressure cuff.

Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the blood vessels in the lungs become narrowed or stiff. To push blood through these arteries, the right side of the heart has to work harder. Eventually, the overworked part of your heart weakens, which can lead to heart failure.

Often, pulmonary hypertension is a result of another disease. For example, your condition may be caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congenital heart disease or kidney disease, among many other causes.

Norton Pulmonary Specialists is a leader in treating lung conditions in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Our team has the experience and training to identify the cause of your condition and work with you to find an effective treatment.

In recognition of special expertise in pulmonary hypertension care, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association has accredited Norton Pulmonary Specialists as a Pulmonary Hypertension Care Center. The association’s accreditation is part of an effort to get patients the right diagnosis and care faster.

The Norton Pulmonary Specialists team works closely with physicians across the Norton Healthcare system to bring a full range of viewpoints and expertise to your treatment. Patients can benefit from the input of many specialists, including cardiologists, urologists and others.

Our specialists meet as a team every week to collaborate on all of our cases, bringing you the benefit of other providers’ opinions, viewpoints and expertise. When you work with Norton Pulmonary Specialists, you work with a team of research specialists, physicians and medical professionals dedicated to finding the best treatment for you.

As leaders in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, our specialists routinely take part in clinical trials of innovative therapies. As principal investigators in clinical trials, our specialists have a wealth of experience with a treatment before it is approved for widespread use. Also, patients who want to try a new medication can get access through Norton Pulmonary Specialists.

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Pulmonary arterial hypertension describes a condition when the high blood pressure is caused by changes in lung blood vessels rather than another disease. Obstruction, narrowing or other changes to the blood vessels reduces blood flow, forcing blood pressure higher.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension often has an unknown cause. Less frequently, the cause is a genetic mutation that’s inherited. Pulmonary arterial hypertension tends to worsen over time and tends to affect women between the ages of 30 and 60 more than others.

Treatments can ease symptoms and improve quality of life.

Pulmonary Hypertension Diagnosis and Treatment

With our specialists’ experience and the latest tools, you’ll get a precise diagnosis that will guide a customized treatment plan for you.

Some diagnostic tests we perform include:

  • Right-heart catheterization: This minimally invasive procedure involves threading a thin catheter through your blood vessels to your right ventricle and pulmonary artery. This allows direct measurement of the blood pressure in your lungs.
  • Chest X-ray: This can show whether your right ventricle is enlarged due to overexertion.
  • Ultrasound: We’ll use high-frequency sound waves to see how well your heart beats, especially the right ventricle.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): This measures your heart’s electrical rhythms and also can provide information about any enlargement of the right ventricle.

Since pulmonary hypertension is often the result of an underlying condition, your treatment likely will focus on that cause. Managing symptoms and slowing the disease’s progress often will start with medication.

There are many pulmonary hypertension medications to achieve different results. Some will open narrowed blood vessels; others act on a substance that narrows blood vessels. Still others eliminate excess fluid from the body or help the right ventricle pump harder.

It may take some time of trying different medications to find the right combination that provides the best outcome for you. Our pulmonologists have the experience to match your condition with the available treatments.

Care That’s Convenient for You

  • Our staff includes interventional pulmonologists who are trained and experienced in minimally invasive diagnostics and treatment, including robotic-assisted bronchoscopy, meaning you’ll have access to advanced technology for your care.
  • We have seven convenient Louisville-area locations: Northeastern Louisville, downtown Louisville, Newburg, Pleasure Ridge Park and Mount Washington, Kentucky; in Southern Indiana, Jeffersonville and Scottsburg.
  • We provide pulmonary care and respiratory management of critical care patients at Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital.
  • Norton Healthcare’s pulmonary rehabilitation program has three locations in Louisville and is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
  • We work as a team with referring physicians, including pediatricians.
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.

About Norton Pulmonary Specialists

The board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians with Norton Pulmonary Specialists are leaders in caring for Louisville and Southern Indiana patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and other lung diseases.

  • More than two dozen board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians with extensive experience specialize in diagnosis and management of all forms of lung diseases and sleep disorders, so you can get the care you need.
  • The Norton Pulmonary Specialists team pursues leading-edge treatments, and our specialists are investigators on many clinical trials that give patients access to the latest treatments.
  • Our specialists use robotic-assisted bronchoscopy to perform minimally invasive biopsies of the lung, which allows for greater precision during the important diagnostic procedure.  
  • Norton Pulmonary Specialists is accredited by the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Thoracic Society, the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
  • Our providers will give you a precise diagnosis and develop a customized treatment plan for your lung condition, so you can get back to living your best life.
  • For asthma, your physician will work with you to develop a written asthma action plan to help you manage your symptoms.
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more anytime from a computer or mobile device with a free Norton MyChart account.

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