BOZEMAN DEACONESS MEDICAL TEAM DESIGNS PULMONARY HYPERTENSION PROTOCOL

DECEMBER 1, 2011
Drs. Robert 'Brownie' Schoene and Kim Marquis, Bozeman Deaconess Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care, and Dane Sobek, Bozeman Deaconess Cardiology Consultants, have designed a protocol for patients with suspected pulmonary hypertension. “We are doing right-heart catheterizations and exercising patients with suspected pulmonary hypertension,” says Dr. Schoene, noting that southwest Montana has the largest collection of patients with pulmonary hypertension in our region other than university medical centers.

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. When these vessels constrict pressure builds. The right side of the heart has to work harder against the pressure to transport blood through the lungs where it picks up oxygen. Over time, the strain on the right heart and reduced blood flow to the lungs can lead to heart failure.

Patients with pulmonary hypertension experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fatigue and weakness. The illness, which has no cure, becomes worse over time and can be fatal.

What causes pulmonary hypertension? It may be from blood clots to the lung, congestive heart failure, heart defects, and lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis. Chronic low oxygen levels, obstructive sleep apnea, heart valve disease, HIV and certain medications also can increase pulmonary arterial pressures causing pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. Schoene presented the data at the October Keystone Science Center that featured studies on effects of moderate altitude and the relevance of that factor for patients and practitioners.

“If detected, pulmonary hypertension can be treated with medication that can lower the pressures on the right side of the heart. Our studies have shown that in most patients treatment leads to improved exercise performance,” Dr. Schoene reports.
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