Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the lung’s arteries have an elevated blood pressure. The function of your lungs is to diffuse oxygen into your bloodstream with each inspiration, and allow carbon dioxide to diffuse out with exhalation. When an individual has pulmonary hypertension, the heart has difficulty pumping blood through the lungs to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide. Instead of having high blood pressure throughout the body, individuals with pulmonary hypertension may only have high blood pressure in their lungs.

Pulmonary hypertension affects women more often than men, and often exists with another disease. For example, if you have pulmonary hypertension you are more likely to have another disease such as COPD. Individuals with pulmonary hypertension often feel tired, become short of breath while performing daily tasks, and complain of chest discomfort.

Lab studies have shown that smoking causes pulmonary hypertension in animals, but a link between smoking and pulmonary hypertension in humans isn’t as clear. Smoking can increase the risk of developing pulmonary hypertension, and it is a disorder commonly seen in people with lung disease, but the exact pathology of how smoking causes pulmonary hypertension isn’t understood.

There is no cure for pulmonary hypertension, so patients with the disease often focus on symptom management and lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet, exercise, and quitting smoking.




1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2011). What is pulmonary hypertension? Retrieved from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pah.
2. Schiess, R., Senn, O., Fischler, M., Huber, L. C., Vantandaslar, S., Speich, R., Ulrich, S. (2010). Tobacco smoke: A risk factor for pulmonary arterial hypertension? A case-control study. Chest, 138(5): 1086-1092.