Back to Basics: What You Need To Know About PAH

The human body is a magnificent creation. Everything works together as one big “machine.”

However, from time to time for some unknown reasons we may develop a glitch that alters the natural flow and function of our bodies throughout our life.

Have you ever experienced shortness of breath with exertion? Of course, it is a normal response in the human body. Well, it could be more than just a simple rise of heart rate from activity if it is a consistent issue.

Abnormally high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery causes shortness of breath and edema in the lower extremities. Other noted symptoms as it worsens are:

  • dizziness,
  • rapid heart rate
  • and chest pain.

This is called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). It effects the pulmonary artery, which functions as the pathway that our blood flows from our heart to our lungs. When this is hindered by the restriction of blood flow through the already small arteries that have been compromised in size by increased pressure, oxygenated blood does not flow or reach other organs appropriately. This can cause damage to the right ventricle of the heart.

There is no proof of individuals being born with PAH. In fact, it mostly occurs on its own meaning it is sporadic. But it is possible that is can be inherited due to an altered gene.

Through studies is has been found that it occurs more in females vs males. And an estimated 1,000 new cases each year are diagnosed. In research it is suggested that the diameter narrowing of the arteries is a result of the mutation of a gene.

How? By  preventing cell death, the mutation leads to an overgrowth of these cells in the arteries causing the resistance of blood flow to the lungs. It is known now that the most common gene that causes pulmonary arterial restriction is the BMPR2 gene.

Overall, the important thing is to listen to our body and never ignore even the smallest changes. Often when we think it is just an ache, pain, or cold, but it can sometimes be much more.

Some things take longer to reveal themselves. But at least by telling your doctor that you “noticed” something and it has happened more than once, it can be noted. It can also be a red flag to something more. Something as common as being short of breath with exertion or some swelling in your feet can be a true sign of something hidden much deeper.

Read more here.

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