Pulmonary hypertension

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs. It can affect people of any age.

It’s unusual to get pulmonary hypertension on its own – it’s usually caused by another lung or heart condition.

In the UK, around 6,000-7,000 people have pulmonary hypertension. It’s thought that more people have the condition and haven’t been diagnosed.

What does pulmonary hypertension mean?

Pulmonary: to do with your lungs
Hypertension: high blood pressure

If you have pulmonary hypertension, you have high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries. These are tubes that carry blood to your lungs.

The right side of your heart pumps blood that’s low in oxygen through the pulmonary arteries to your lungs. Here the blood picks up oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood is then pumped to the left side of your heart, which pumps it to the rest of your body (see diagram below).

If you have pulmonary hypertension, the high blood pressure in your lungs means that the right side of your heart has to work harder to pump blood. Over time, the right side of your heart begins to struggle with this extra work. It can become weaker and pump less effectively. This causes the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension.

Next: Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension >

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Last medically reviewed: January 2016. Due for review: January 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.