Pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in arteries which supply the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension can be caused by pulmonary fibrosis, and can be very dangerous.

Causes of pulmonary hypertension

Many people live with both pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension can be caused by pulmonary fibrosis, as well as other lung diseases.

Scarred tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the lungs. This leads to high blood pressure in both the arteries, and the heart, which can weaken the right-hand side of heart.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension

The symptoms of pulmonary hypertension can be similar to the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis and can include:

·       Chest pains, especially after exercise

·       Swelling in the legs and ankles

·       A racing heartbeat

·       Feeling dizzy or faint, especially when exercising

·       Feeling tired

·       Feeling increasingly breathless

Pulmonary hypertension can be dangerous as it can cause heart failure.

Tests to diagnose pulmonary hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension can be hard to identify as the symptoms are similar to other conditions.

Your medical team may use the following tests to diagnose pulmonary hypertension:

·       An echocardiogram of your heart. By scanning your heart, your medical team will be able to see how well both sides of your heart are pumping and estimate the pressure in the blood vessels between your heart and lungs.

·       Right heart catheterisation. This an invasive procedure where the exact blood pressure in your heart and in the blood vessels can be measured by passing a thin, flexible tube through a vein and to your heart.

Treatments of pulmonary hypertension

Your medical team will focus on treating your pulmonary fibrosis, since this is the cause of your pulmonary hypertension.

There are also some treatments which can reduce the pressure in the blood vessels in the lungs and improve the heart function but these are not commonly used in patients with pulmonary fibrosis where the main treatment which can help is supplemental oxygen.

Find out more about pulmonary hypertension treatments.

Information provided by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF) is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s intended as general information only. APF is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered by users resulting from the information published on actionpf.org.

Further information for carers:

Your essential caring guide (PDF)
Print this article

You’ll find related articles here:

You might also find this helpful:

What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Personal stories
Support line
Support groups