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Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, Ambulatory Care

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)

is a condition that increases pressure in your pulmonary artery. The pulmonary artery is the large blood vessel that brings blood from your heart to your lungs.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Weight gain or lack of appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath with exercise
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Chest pain or heart palpitations (strong, fast heartbeats)
  • Dizziness or feeling faint

Call 911 for any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath at rest, especially when you lie down

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Swollen legs or ankles
  • Vomiting and not being able eat or drink
  • Confusion or feeling like you are going to faint

Treatment for PAH

may include any of the following:

  • Medicine may be given to improve blood flow, get rid of extra fluid, or prevent blood clots. Blood clot medicine may make you bruise or bleed more easily. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric shaver to prevent bleeding.
  • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
  • Surgery may be used to help blood flow from one part of the heart to another. You may need lung or heart transplant surgery if other treatments do not work and your condition is severe.

Manage your PAH:

  • Eat less sodium (salt). You may need to limit the amount of sodium you eat. Check labels to find low-sodium or no-salt-added foods. Some low-sodium foods use potassium salts for flavor. Too much potassium can also cause health problems. Ask your healthcare provider how much sodium and potassium salt are safe for you to eat each day.

  • Limit liquids as directed. You may need to drink less liquid to help balance your fluid level. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise may help decrease your symptoms and improve your heart function. Exercise also helps with weight control. Do not start an exercise program before you talk with your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid activities that raise your body temperature. Do not sit in a sauna, hot tub, or hot bath. This can lower your blood pressure and cause you to faint.
  • If you are a woman, talk to your healthcare provider about pregnancy. Pregnancy may not be safe for you. You may need to change your birth control method if you currently use birth control pills. Birth control pills may increase your risk for blood clots. Your healthcare provider can help you choose other methods that work for you.
  • Manage health conditions affecting your PAH. You many need treatment for sleep apnea, hypertension, or other medical conditions. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
  • Do not travel to high altitudes unless your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may need to bring extra oxygen if you are traveling to a high altitude or are flying.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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