Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)
The following information will help answer some of your questions about Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). It will also provide information about the different ways to treat PAH.
What is pulmonary arterial hypertension?
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is high blood pressure in the arteries (blood vessels) of your lungs. The blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your lungs become hard, stiff and narrow. This makes your heart work harder to pump blood through your lungs. Over time, your heart may become weak and unable to pump as well as it should.
What causes PAH?
There are many possible causes of PAH. It can be passed down from your parents (inherited). It can also be caused by conditions such as scleroderma, lupus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and birth defects of the heart. PAH can also develop without a reason.
What are symptoms of PAH?
The symptoms for all types of PAH may be similar, and symptoms are usually more severe as the disease progresses. Symptoms of PAH may include:
- Chest pain (also called angina pectoris)
- Fainting (also called syncope)
- Loss of energy
- Swelling of the arms, legs, ankles or abdomen (also called edema)
- Dry cough
- Raynaud's phenomenon (chalky white or dusky blue fingers that may be painful and can sometimes be provoked by the cold)
In advanced stages of pulmonary hypertension, minimal activity may produce some or all of these symptoms. Patients in advanced stages may experience irregular heartbeat, a racing pulse, passing out and difficulty breathing at rest.
Sometimes these symptoms mean you have another condition, but sometimes, these symptoms mean you have pulmonary hypertension.
How is PAH treated?
PAH has no cure. However, treatment may help relieve symptoms and slow progression of the disease. Treatment includes medications that relax the blood vessels in your lungs so that more blood can flow through them. It can also include medications that reduce excess cell growth in the blood vessels.
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