PPHN is caused by a congenital problem that results in abnormal blood flow to the lungs, causing high pressure in the blood and restricting blood flow to the lungs. It happens when there is a problem with the lungs’ blood vessels, which normally help exchange oxygen. It is seen mostly in infants with low birth weight or premature.
As a neonatologist, I spend a lot of time reading medical articles, looking up medical terms, and trying to understand the latest medical research.
One thing I don’t often get to do is read case reports. These are short descriptions of real patients, usually presenting a new medical problem.
While reading case reports can help you learn new things, extracting useful information from the article is often difficult, especially when you don’t know much about the topic.
Most people think the baby’s lungs should clear up as it grows. But in some cases, the lungs can continue to get worse and worse. This is called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, or PPHN. In this condition, blood flow to the lungs continues to increase and build pressure within the lungs, causing heart problems, breathing difficulties, and brain damage.
Pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PHN)
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How to know if your baby has pulmonary hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension, or PH, is when the blood vessels in your lungs become stiff and narrow, making it difficult for the blood to flow through your lungs. If left untreated, this condition can cause a reduction in oxygen and blood pressure in your body, leading to heart failure.
Because of its severity, many babies with PH are diagnosed early in life, when they’re still in the womb. However, many babies with PH will develop symptoms after birth.
In a baby, PH is usually diagnosed by measuring the resistance of the blood vessels in the lungs. These measurements are then compared to the heights of a healthy baby.
A pulmonary artery pressure greater than 30 mm Hg is considered abnormal.
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Take persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), for instance. It’s a rare condition that can be treated with oxygen therapy. Unfortunately, it’s a condition on the rise and is more common than we’d like to admit.
The cost of oxygen therapy, however, is skyrocketing. If you could create a system that can automate oxygen therapy and save lives, it would be the most useful technology in 2023.
How does it affect infants?
Pulmonary hypertension is when blood vessels in the lungs get bigger, and blood pressure in the lungs rises. Pulmonary hypertension affects newborns and older children.
Infants who have pulmonary hypertension are at risk of a life-threatening complication called right heart failure.
What causes pulmonary hypertension? The condition occurs when the right side of the heart cannot pump blood effectively enough to the lungs, causing fluid to back up into the lungs. The symptoms of right heart failure include a weak pulse, tiredness, fatigue, poor appetite, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, and belly bruising. These symptoms are similar to those of congestive heart failure. The exact cause of pulmonary hypertension is not known.
The infant’s lungs may become so overworked that the right side of the heart is forced to work too hard, leading to heart damage and even death. Right heart failure can be treated with medications or surgery. If you’re pregnant, you’ll probably be treated with medication. A pediatric cardiologist does the surgery. It may be done in a hospital or clinic. The doctor will place a tube into your chest. After delivery, most babies will be given an oxygen mask while they recover from the surgery.
I have frequently asked questions about pulmonary hypertension.
Q: How does PAH affect the heart?
A: PAH affects the pulmonary vasculature, which can cause the right ventricle to dilate. The right ventricle has a limited capacity to change shape and can not accommodate this change. Right heart failure is a common outcome.
A: The right ventricle must work harder to pump blood to the body. The higher cardiac output can lead to pulmonary edema and, eventually, pulmonary hypertension.
Q: Can these changes be reversed?
A: There are several options available to patients with PAH. These include medications, lung transplants, or mechanical circulatory support devices (like left ventricular assist devices or total artificial hearts).
Top myths about pulmonary hypertension
- Pulmonary hypertension only occurs in older adults.
- Pulmonary hypertension can only occur as a result of an autoimmune problem.
- Pulmonary hypertension only occurs in men.
PPHN is a rare condition that causes the blood vessels in the lungs to narrow. This prevents oxygen from reaching the body’s organs and can lead to serious health problems, including heart failure. It’s often found in babies born prematurely or with other medical issues.
If you have ever worked in a hospital, you know that babies are often born with PPHN. It’s one of the most common conditions that lead to death in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). There are three types of treatment for PPHN:
Treatment of PPHN depends on the severity of the condition. Treatment options include oxygen therapy, medications, and surgery. If you suspect your baby may have PPHN, you should see a doctor immediately.