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Understanding Pulmonary Hypertension

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Essay title: Understanding Pulmonary Hypertension

Understanding Pulmonary Hypertension

The human body is a very complex organism composed of different types of systems and functions. All the functions that each system has, is what makes possible for the body to obtain life. One of the most important systems in one’s body is the circulatory system, where the heart, the lungs, and the blood vessels work together to form the circle part of the circulatory system. The pumping of the heart forces the blood on its journey. The body’s circulatory system really has three parts: pulmonary circulation, coronary circulation, and systemic circulation. Each part must be working independently in order for them to all work together. However, when one of the parts of the circulatory system does not work properly, diseases like pulmonary hypertension arise.

During a normal cycle of the pulmonary circulation, the veins bring waste-rich blood back to the heart, entering the large atrium throughout two large veins called vena cavae. The right atrium fills with the waste-rich blood and then contracts, pushing the blood through a one-way valve into the right ventricle. The right ventricle fills and then contracts, pushing the blood into the pulmonary artery, which leads to the lungs. In the capillaries, the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen takes place. The fresh, oxygen-rich blood enters the pulmonary veins and then returns to the heart, reentering through the left atrium. The oxygen-rich then passes through a one-way valve into the left ventricle where it will exit the heart through the main artery, called the aorta. The left’s ventricles contraction forces the blood into the aorta and the blood begins its journey throughout the body. The circulatory system is a network of one-way streets. If blood starting flowing the wrong way, the blood gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) might mix, causing a serious threat to one’s body. Now that we have examined the normal cycle of the pulmonary circulation, let us see what is it that goes wrong that leads to the disorder pulmonary hypertension.

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare blood vessel disorder of the lung in which the pressure on the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that leads from the heart to the lungs) rises above normal levels and may become life threatening. It involves the tightening of blood vessels connected to and within the lugs. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood thorough the lungs, much as it is harder to make water flow through a narrow pipe as opposed to a wide one. Over time, the affected blood vessels become both stiffer and thicker, further increasing the blood pressure within the lungs and impairing blood flow. In addition, the increase workload of the heart causes thickening and enlargement of the right ventricle, making the heart less able to pump blood through the lungs, causing right heart failure. As the blood flowing through the lungs decreases, the left side of the heart receives less blood. This blood may also carry less oxygen than normal. Therefore it becomes harder and harder for the left side of the heart to pump to supply sufficient oxygen to the rest of the body, especially during physical activity.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension do not usually occur until the condition has progressed. The first symptom of pulmonary hypertension is shortness of breath with everyday activities, such as climbing stairs. Fatigue, dizziness, and fainting spells can also be symptoms. Swelling in the abdomen, ankles or legs, bluish lips and skin, and chest pain may occur as strain on

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