Pressure helps blood flow through blood vessels. Hypertension occurs when this pressure gets too high. When this happens in the blood vessels in the lungs, it is called pulmonary hypertension.
Pressure may rise for any number of reasons. It creates a potentially serious condition. The right side of the heart needs to pump harder to move blood against the pressure. If left untreated, the right side of the heart can eventually fail.
Heart and Lungs
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The blood vessels in the lungs are very sensitive to oxygen. The lower the level of oxygen, the narrower the vessels become. Higher pressure will be needed to push blood through the narrow blood vessels. Pressure will also increase when there is more blood in the lungs than normal.
There are many different causes of pulmonary hypertension in children, such as:
- Birth defects that affect the heart (eg, septal defects, leaky heart valves)
- Deformity of the chest wall (pectus excavatum)
- Conditions like scleroderma, sickle cell disease, lupus, HIV
- Chronic lung disease
- Blood clots in the lungs
Pulmonary hypertension can also be inherited. This is called familiar pulmonary hypertension. In other cases, the cause is unknown.
Last reviewedDecember 2012by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.