A quick look at 7 medications to treat Pulmonary Hypertension

Date: Mon 6th June 2016

  • Pulmonary hypertension is raised blood pressure within the pulmonary arteries, which are the blood vessels that supply the lungs.

It's a serious medical condition that can damage the right side of the heart, making the heart less efficient at pumping blood around the body and getting oxygen to the muscles.

Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include:

•shortness of breath

•fatigue (tiredness)

•feeling faint or dizzy

•chest pains (angina)

•a racing heartbeat (palpitations)

•leg and ankle swelling


There area range of treatments available for Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) – we take a quick look at 7 treatments that are available and what they do in order to treat the condition

  • Blood vessel dilators (vasodilators)

Pulmonary hypertension is a condition, which narrows the blood vessels, so using blood vessel dilators as a treatment will help as they work to open narrowed blood vessels. Epoprostenol (Flolan) is one of the vasodilators for PH most commonly prescribed. However, as the medication effects only lasts a few minutes, epoprostenol needs to be given via an IV through a pump, which PH patients have to wear in a pack on their belt or shoulder. Like all medications, it has its side effects, which include jaw pain, nausea, diarrhea, and leg cramps, among others.

  • Endothelin receptor antagonists

Endothelin is the substance that causes the blood vessels to narrow. Endothelin receptor antagonists are medications that reverse this effect. Bosentan (Tracleer) is one of these medications; whilst taking it, pulmonary hypertension patients may see their energy levels improved and their symptoms relieved. If you're prescribed this medication, you will need monthly liver monitoring since this drug is very strong and can cause damage to your liver. A similar medication to Bosentan, which also stops the narrowing of your blood vessels, is Ambrisentan (Letairis).

  • Sildenafil and Tadalafil

Sildenafil (Revatio) and Tadalafil (Adcirca) are sometimes used to treat pulmonary hypertension. Sildenafil and its compounds have been found to improve exercise ability and reduce clinical disease progression in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Tadalafil, marketed under the name Adcirca, is used to treat patients with PAH as it also can improve exercising ability. Both of these medications are used to open the blood vessels in the lungs and as a result, they allow blood to flow through more easily.

  • High-dose calcium channel blockers

These types of medication help relax the muscles in the walls of blood vessels. Amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac) and nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia) are some of the high-dose calcium channel blockers available for pulmonary hypertension treatment.

  • Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants are important to help prevent blood clots from forming in the pulmonary arteries. Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) is one of the more common anticoagulants you can be prescribed with. Also, anticoagulants prevent normal blood coagulation, and for this reason, it's possible they may increase the risk of bleeding complication. It is important to take this medication as the doctor prescribed and follow all of their directions, or else you can suffer from serious and severe side effects.

  • Diuretics

Diuretics are used to help eliminate excess fluid from the body. They are usually known as water pills and they reduce the work your heart has to do. They can also be used to help your lungs limit fluid build-ups.

  • Oxygen

As people with pulmonary hypertension have difficulties breathing, something they will always need is oxygen. It's possible your doctor may suggest you breathe pure oxygen – a treatment known as oxygen therapy – to help treat this PAH.


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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