Harvard Heart Letter

The dangers of pulmonary hypertension

Treatments can help control symptoms and protect the heart.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) occurs when the arteries serving the lungs become stiff and thick. Blood pressure in the lungs rises, and the right side of the heart must work harder to pump blood to the lungs. Symptoms tend to mimic those of other more common diseases, so diagnosis is often delayed. As the overworked heart struggles to do its job, its right side gradually begins to fail.

Until recently, most people died within three years of a PAH diagnosis. But treatment continues to improve, and with it, length of life: today, most people with PAH live much longer.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »