Pulmonary Primary Hypertension

PPH: A Silent Killer

Primary pulmonary hypertension or PPH occurs when blood pressure in the pulmonary artery or the major blood vessel connecting the right heart ventricle and the lungs is higher than normal (The lungs are responsible for supplying the blood with oxygen and ridding the blood of carbon dioxide). Primary pulmonary hypertension arises for no apparent reason and is therefore synonymously known as idiopathic pulmonary hypertension or unexplained pulmonary hypertension. Primary pulmonary hypertension causes have been shown to include use of the diet drugs Fen Phen, Redux (dexfenfluramine) and Pondimin (fenfluramine). A higher pulmonary artery blood pressure causes the heart to work much harder to pump sufficient quantities of blood into the lungs. Over time, the heart muscles weaken and eventually may fail.

Primary pulmonary hypertension is a relatively rare lung disorder with an estimated 500 to 1,000 new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States. The greatest number of PPH cases are reported in women from ages 20 to 40, but men, women and children of all ages can develop this disease. In the calendar year 2000, there were 163,000 hospital discharges in which one of the diagnoses was primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH). There is no cure for primary pulmonary hypertension, but treatments can provide great benefits to PPH patients.