The Family

The Family
For Christmas 2010

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Treating Nathan's Pulmonary Hypertension

One of the principal causes of Pulmonary Hypertension are congenital heart defects.  In addition to causing Pulmonary Hypertension, heart problems can also cause a build-up of fluid in the tissues around the heart.  As we've previously discussed, Nathan has quite the history of heart issues.  So he was prescribed a number of medications for his heart and for the Pulmonary Hypertension.

  • Digoxin -- Digoxin works to slow the rate at which the heart beats, assisting it in pumping more efficiently.
  •  Enalapril -- Enalapril acts as a treatment for high blood pressure by acting as a "hormone blocker."  It works against the system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance.  When blood volume is low, the kidneys produce renin.  Renin stimulates the production of angiotensin.  Angiotensin causes blood vessels to constrict, resulting in increased blood pressure.  Angiotensin also stimulates the production of the hormone aldosterone.   Aldosterone increases the body's absorption of sodium and water and aids in the release of potassium in the kidneys.  These actions increases blood volume, and as a result, blood pressure. 
  • Diuril -- Diuril is used both as a diuretic and as an anti-hypertension medication.  Diuretics are drugs that elevate the rate of urination, or in other words they make you pee a lot more than normal.  This helps to eliminate the excess fluid that builds up around the heart.
  • Aldactone -- Aldactone is also both a diuretic and an anti-hypertension medication.  Like the enalapril, it acts as a hormone blocker.  It is used to block the hormone aldosterone.  As mentioned above, aldosterone has the tendency to raise blood pressure.  Thus by blocking aldosterone, aldactone lowers blood pressure.
  •  Sildenafil -- Sildenafil relaxes the arterial wall, leading to decreased pulmonary arterial resistance and pressure.  This in turn reduces the workload of the right ventricle of the heart, which as we learned previously is key to maintaining heart health and reducing Pulmonary Hypertension.
  • Oxygen -- As we've previously noted, Nathan came home on supplemental oxygen.  Oxygen is also used in the treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension.  100% pure oxygen helps loosen up the muscles in the arteries of the lungs.  This aids in lowering the blood pressure, and the patient is able to breathe much more easily.  It also helps decrease organ stress by providing the patient with needed levels of oxygen support.

I realize that that was a lot of physiological jargon.  But I find it entirely amazing how the body works and how the different medications work together to combat different systems or hormones to keep the blood pressure in the lungs low and the heart functioning properly.  It is truly amazing.  We are indeed very grateful for the miracle of science.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that you've been posting the medical terminology of things. It makes much more sense knowing the issues he was having. Some people may think that it was mumbo jumbo, but it has helped me :) Thanks