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What Is Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension? Pulmonary arterial hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries leading from the heart to the lungs. Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a different condition than ordinary high blood pressure (hypertension). Symptoms Include: • S hortness of breath (usually starts slowly and gets worse over time) • C hest pain • F atigue “While there is still no cure, we can offer significant improvement in patients’ symptoms and life expectancy if we treat them early with these new medications . ” • L ethargy • P assing out suddenly • S welling of the legs (edema) Causes Include: • C ongestive heart failure • V enous thromboembolic disease (blood clots in the lungs) • H IV infection • I llegal drug use (cocaine, methamphetamine) • C irrhosis of the liver • A ppetite-suppressant medications (fenfluramine, dexfenfluramine, diethylpropion) • Autoimmune diseases (lupus, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis) • H eart shunts (abnormal blood flow between heart chambers) • C hronic lung disease (emphysema, chronic bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis) • O bstructive sleep apnea When no cause can be identified after testing, the condition is called idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. This condition was formerly known as primary pulmonary hypertension. Vital Signs Summer 2013 Vol. 59 5