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Pulmonary Hypertension Care

Man and Woman Walking Embraced
Man and Woman Walking Embraced

Why choose Ochsner Health for pulmonary hypertension care?

Pulmonary Hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs. It is a disease that affects both the heart and the lungs and is progressive and chronic. It requires comprehensive care from physicians experienced in diagnosing and treating this complex disease. As a Pulmonary Hypertension Association Tier 1 Center of Comprehensive Care since 2017, Ochsner Pulmonary Hypertension Center provides the highest quality of care.

Our team includes highly experienced cardiologists, pulmonologists, advanced practice providers, outpatient nurses, and inpatient cardiac and transplant step-down unit nurses who are deeply committed to improving our patients’ quality of life. We also provide access to experts in rheumatology, nephrology and cardiac anesthesia.

Pulmonary hypertension can happen to people of all ages. Diagnoses are divided into five groups based on the cause, which can vary from heart or lung diseases, autoimmune conditions and more. In some cases, the cause is unknown.

  • Group 1: Pulmonary arterial hypertension. In pulmonary arterial hypertension, pressure in the blood vessels leading to the lungs increases due to an obstruction in the lung’s small arteries. This can be idiopathic (happen for no known reason) or occur due to certain underlying conditions, such as lupus or other autoimmune disorders that affect connective tissues.

  • Group 2: Pulmonary hypertension caused by left-side heart disease. This is the most common type of pulmonary hypertension and results from long-term heart disease damage to the pulmonary arteries.

  • Group 3: Pulmonary hypertension caused by underlying lung disease. Common lung diseases that can lead to pulmonary hypertension include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and obstructive sleep apnea. Chronic high-altitude exposure can also be a cause.

  • Group 4: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. Having chronic blood clots in the lungs, or pulmonary embolisms, can cause the lungs’ arteries to narrow and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension to develop.

  • Group 5: Pulmonary hypertension brought on by other health conditions. Any other cause that doesn’t fit in groups 1-4 fall in this category. Group 5 pulmonary hypertension causes can include blood disorders, thyroid diseases, chronic kidney failure and tumors in the pulmonary arteries.

Pulmonary hypertension is sometimes hard to diagnose, as symptoms mimic those of other diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. See your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Dizziness, sometimes with fainting

  • Dry cough or a cough that produces blood

  • Fatigue

  • Heart palpitations

  • Hoarse voice

  • Muscle weakness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pain in your chest

  • Shortness of breath

  • Swelling of legs and feet

  • Swollen abdomen

  • Wheezing

To make a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, your doctor will begin with a physical exam that may include checking the oxygen levels in your blood, listening for signs of an irregular heartbeat, listening to your lungs, examining your abdomen and legs for signs of swelling and taking your blood pressure. If your doctor suspects pulmonary hypertension, they may order different diagnostic tests, including:

  • Right-heart catheterization. The doctor inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in your arm, groin or neck and guides it to the right side of your heart and to your pulmonary artery to measure the pressure and evaluate your heart’s function.

  • Echocardiogram. This test creates moving pictures of your heart using sound waves. It can show your doctor how well your blood is flowing and detect blood clots, fluid buildup and other issues.

  • Lung imaging tests. Chest X-rays, chest CT scans and other imaging tests can show the size and shape of the heart as well as the pulmonary arteries.

  • Blood tests. Blood samples can help your doctor identify blood clots and signs of stress on the heart.

  • Electrocardiogram. This test takes a snapshot of your heart’s activity and can show whether your heart is working too hard or if there are changes in pulmonary arteries.

  • Pulmonary ventilation/perfusion scan. For this scan, the doctor injects you with radioactive albumin. A machine then scans your lungs to measure your breathing and circulation.

  • Pulmonary function tests. Tests such as body plethysmography, in which you sit in a clear airtight box shaped like a phone booth and breathe in and out of a mouthpiece, measure lung function.

Treatment for pulmonary hypertension varies from person to person, based on the cause and progression of the disease. Ochsner offers all approved medications for pulmonary hypertension, including:

  • Calcium channel blockers to lower blood pressure

  • Oxygen therapy to maintain oxygen levels and relieve shortness of breath

  • Pulmonary vasodilators and other drugs that can ease symptoms and increase tolerance to physical activity

  • IV treatments and inhaled medicines to open blood vessels to ease symptoms and improve survival

  • Pulmonary thromboendarterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove blood clots in the lungs

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation

In some severe cases, a lung transplant may be an appropriate treatment when other therapies have failed.

We offer an array of services to help ease your burden and improve the quality of your life. Our team of compassionate palliative care providers and social workers coordinate with home healthcare agencies to give patients everything they need. We also provide dietitian services to help patients make healthy changes.


Pulmonary hypertension causes the pulmonary arteries to harden and narrow, reducing oxygen in the blood and making your heart work harder. Over time, your heart weakens, and heart failure can result.

No cure exists for pulmonary hypertension. However, when treatment begins early in the progression of the disease, many patients can live a full life with fewer limitations.

You might be referred to us by your primary care provider, cardiologist or pulmonary specialist. However, you are also welcome to self-refer. Call 504-842-4721.

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Map of Ochsner-affiliated facilities that provide services related to Pulmonary Hypertension Care

Pulmonary Hypertension Care Locations

Heart & Vascular Center of Acadiana
155 Hospital Drive
Lafayette, LA 70503
  • Monday–Thursday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Friday: 8 a.m.-noon
Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center
1214 Coolidge St.
Lafayette, LA 70503
  • Open 24/7
Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans
1514 Jefferson Highway
New Orleans, LA 70121
  • Open 24/7