Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is defined by high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs.

There are many different types pulmonary hypertension, including pulmonary arterial hypertension. It is a chronic disease that can lead to heart failure if left untreated. The most common symptoms of pulmonary hypertension are shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue. The severity of the symptoms usually correlates with the severity of the disease. Pulmonary hypertension affects people of all ages and races, and there are some risk factors for this disease. Some of these include connective tissue disease (scleroderma in particular), sickle cell disease, congenital heart disease and liver disease. There are many conditions that lead to pulmonary hypertension and there are many different types of the disease. A thorough and accurate diagnosis, including a right heart catheterization, is essential before appropriate treatment can be started. Prognoses for this disease have significantly improved with current available therapy.

About Us

At the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital, we offer a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation and management of pulmonary hypertension. Our treatment team includes a variety of specialties collaborating to provide excellent patient care to the diverse population of pulmonary hypertension patients.

Our Pulmonary Hypertension Program offers all FDA-approved pharmacotherapy for PH, including oral, inhaled and parental medications. We also have a dedicated pharmacist who specializes in pulmonary hypertension pharmacotherapy.

Conditions We Treat 

We have experience managing patients with the following groups of PH:

WHO ClassDescription
1 – Pulmonary Arterial HypertensionIdiopathic, familial, portopulmonary hypertension, drugs/toxins, congenital systemic-to-pulmonary shunts, collagen vascular disease
2 – Pulmonary Hypertension associated with left-sided heart diseaseLeft-sided atrial or ventricular heat disease, left-sided valvular heart disease
3 – Pulmonary Hypertension associated with lung diseases/hypoxemiaCOPD, ILD, sleep-disordered breathing, alveolar hypoventilation disorders
4 – Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary HypertensionThromboembolic obstruction of the proximal or distal pulmonary arteries, nonthrombotic pulmonary embolism
5 – Miscellaneous causes of pulmonary hypertensionSarcoidosis, lymphangiomatosis

Diagnostic Testing Available

  • Right and left heart catheterization – gold standard for diagnosis, direct measurement of pressures
  • PH specific echocardiograms – ultrasound to estimate heart function and pressures
  • Thoracic imaging – CT scan evaluates for lung diseases, and estimates size of the pulmonary artery
    • CT Scan
    • VQ scan– looks for blood clots lodged in the lungs
  • Pulmonary function testing – breathing tests to evaluate lung function and elements of lung disease
  • 6 minute walk testing – measure of ambulatory oxygenations and ability to function in daily life
  • Biomarkers for PH – blood markers to estimate amount of heart strain
  • Sleep studies – done to evaluate for sleep apnea
  • Cardiac MRI – more accurate assessment of size and function of right ventricle
  • Exercise cardiac catheterization – evaluates the pulmonary vascular hemodynamic response to stress
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing – helps to determine if SOB is due to heart or lung impairment
  • Digital substraction pulmonary angiography – screens for blood clots in the lungs