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Patients with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension May Eventually Require a Lung Transplant

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Primary pulmonary hypertension is a rare condition in which the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs gradually become narrower with time. As the blood pressure increases within the constricted passageways, it becomes much more difficult for the right ventricle to pump blood throughout the body. Under the stress of the increased workload, the right ventricle may become overworked and enlarged; it may even fail altogether.

Mild to moderate primary pulmonary hypertension can often be treated through medication(s), such as:

  • Blood thinners, which can help the blood flow more freely through the arteries
  • Inotropic medications, which can help increase the heart’s pumping ability
  • Vasodilators, which can help lower blood pressure and enhance right ventricle function
  • Other medications, including prescriptions that can block endothelin, a substance that causes the blood vessels to narrow

Physicians may also recommend oxygen therapy, which can compensate for low oxygen in the blood. With a combination of medications and oxygen therapy, many patients are able to keep their pulmonary hypertension under control. In a small number of cases, patients with severe primary pulmonary hypertension failure may ultimately require a lung transplant. According to data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, however; there is a very small percentage of those patients waiting for a lung transplant in the United States who have an underlying diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Typically, transplants are reserved for patients whose symptoms do not respond to medical or oxygen therapy, and whose hypertension has led to irreversible end-stage lung disease.

Tampa General Hospital’s Lung Transplant Program performs transplants for adult patients with a wide range of diagnoses, including primary pulmonary hypertension. Qualification criteria vary by lung transplant condition, and every patient is evaluated on an individual basis using information from a physician-submitted Cardiothoracic Transplant referral form. For more information about our patient selection process and the lung transplant conditions we treat, contact Tampa General Hospital toll free at 1-800-505-7769 (press 3 for the lung transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.