Protecting Your Cardiovascular Health - Pulmonary Hypertension

As the author of Building Muscle 101, I get a variety of questions regarding all aspects of health, from building muscle and strength to cardiovascular health. Certain questions such as cardio vascular activity and certain health risks associated poor cardio vascular health such as pulmonary hypertension, leaves me feeling at a bit of a loss.

Some of my readers do indeed have certain cardio vascular conditions such as PHT and want information on how to "work" around these conditions. This is a field of expertise that is really out of my area.

I'm not a doctor and I don't pretend to be so I can't give out any exact medical information with regards to cardio vascular conditions such as pulmonary hypertension.

However, pulmonary hypertension has a negative effect on your cardio vascular health since the artieries that supply blood to your lungs are constricted or blocked. This in turn causes your heart to work harder trying to basically force more blood throught the blockages.

This causes shortness of breath and dizzyness.

Now, since I can't get into the details of cardio vascular conditions such as pulmonay hypertension, I thought I might attach a very interesting article by the American Heart Association regarding pulmonary hypertension. Remember, before you attempt any physical activity, such as weight training, always consult with your doctor.

You can visit the American Heart Association at:

Pulmonary Hypertension - What It Is -

High blood pressure in the arteries that supply the lungs is called pulmonary hypertension (PHT). The blood pressure measured by cuff on your arm isn't directly related to the pressure in your lungs. The blood vessels that supply the lungs constrict and their walls thicken, so they can't carry as much blood.

As in a kinked garden hose, pressure builds up and backs up. The heart works harder, trying to force the blood through. If the pressure is high enough, eventually the heart can't keep up, and less blood can circulate through the lungs to pick up oxygen. Patients then become tired, dizzy and short of breath.

If a pre-existing disease triggered the PHT, doctors call it secondary PHT. That's because it's secondary to another problem, such as a heart or lung disorder. Congenital heart disease can cause PHT.

It's important to repair congenital heart problems (when possible) before permanent pulmonary hypertensive changes develop. Intracardiac left-to-right shunts (such as a ventricular or atrial septal defect, a hole in the wall between the two ventricles or atria) can cause too much blood flow through the lungs. This situation is sometimes called Eisenmenger complex. Heart valve conditions, such as mitral stenosis (a narrowing of the mitral valve), can also cause PHT. Fixing the valve usually reverses the PHT.

Treating Pulmonary Hypertension

Once pulmonary hypertension has been diagnosed, often more medical therapy is needed. You'll require regular follow-up with a cardiologist or pulmonologist trained in caring for patients with PHT.

As long as the underlying disease exists, it will keep causing PHT. Once you have PHT (especially if you've had it for some time), curing the disease that caused it may not make the PHT go away. In that case, the PHT will usually need separate treatment. It's not possible here to tell all you need to know about treating PHT. This is a serious illness, but treatment is available. You may be treated with oxygen, agents to help your heart pump better, diuretics, anticoagulants (blood thinners), and medications to lower your PHT. Sometimes lung transplants also are done.

A diagnosis of PHT doesn't necessarily mean you can't have an active, fulfilling life. Still, you should consider certain measures and precautions. PHT is a lifelong illness that can be made worse by a variety of factors, such as smoking or going to high altitude.

Once PHT has been diagnosed, you must seek advice about physical activity. If you have PHT, you should be as active as physically possible. Physical activity can be associated with marked increases in pulmonary artery pressure. Thus, don't do isometric exercises and activities that produce dangerous symptoms, such as chest pain or dizziness. A supervised cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program may help promote conditioning. Many patients with pulmonary hypertension report having "good and bad days." If you need to rest, do so.

Most medications often used to treat coexistent illnesses are safe for people with PHT. Still, care should be taken both in prescribing medications and in using over-the-counter drugs. Any anesthetics or sedatives can be very hazardous; ask your physician which medications are safe.

Pregnancy and delivery produce dramatic changes that can seriously endanger your life. Thus, avoid pregnancy by practicing a safe and effective method of contraception. Avoid oral contraceptives; they can aggravate PHT. The most effective form of contraception for people with significant PHT is surgical sterilization.

Additional precautions are often taken with PHT patients. These include supplemental oxygen during air travel, antibiotic therapy for significant respiratory tract infections, pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine and yearly flu vaccines (since pneumonia can be very serious with PHT patients). Also avoid conditions in which the ambient oxygen concentration may be decreased, such as high altitude and travel in unpressurized airplane cabins.

Before starting an exercise program, ask your physician what activities are appropriate for you.

Finally, if you've begun medical treatment for your PHT, stopping any of your medicines without your physician's approval can be extremely dangerous. Medical therapy has significantly improved the outlook for most PHT patients, but it doesn't "cure" PHT. So don't stop medical therapies unless your physician (trained in caring for PHT patients) recommends doing so.

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