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.
As a result, 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.
The blood vessels in the lungs are 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:
Pulmonary hypertension can also be inherited. This is called familial pulmonary hypertension. In other cases, the cause is unknown.
Factors that may increase your risk of pulmonary hypertension include:
Symptoms may include:
If your child has any of these symptoms, talk to the doctor right away. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions.
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your child's bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Images may be taken of your child's bodily structures. This can be done with:
Your child's lung function may be tested. This can be done with pulmonary function tests.
Most cases of pulmonary hypertension are due to another condition. In this case, the underlying cause will be treated.
If the cause cannot be determined, your child may be treated with medication, such as:
Your child may also need oxygen therapy to increase the oxygen getting into the blood stream.
In severe cases, a lung transplant may be needed.
Pulmonary hypertension. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site510/mainpageS510P0.html. Updated 2012. Accessed November 7, 2014.
Pulmonary hypertension. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/info/heart/diagnose/ph.htm. Updated June 2014. Accessed November 7, 2014.
Pulmonary hypertension. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115584/Rhabdomyosarcoma. Updated May 27, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Kari Kassir, 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.