Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease which involves increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries, which can in the long run cause right sided heart failure and death. Weakness, breathlessness, and occasional giddiness and falls are vague symptoms; signs and symptoms of right sided heart failure usually present in advanced cases or in those without treatment. 2-d echo tests, along with a clinical history, a possible family history, and other supporting tests can help in a diagnosis.
Congenital heart disease, valvular heart disease, left ventricular failure, connective tissue disease, infections, drug toxicity, chronic lung disease, high altitude disease, tumors; and disorders related to metabolic disease, blood clotting diseases, and systemic diseases, are all possible causes for PAH. When no specific cause can be located for the condition, it is termed as idiopathic PAH.
Treatment of PAH is with drugs which bring about smooth muscle relaxation of arteries thereby causing vasodilatation and reduction in pressure of pulmonary arteries. Calcium channel blockers and derivatives of prostacycline form the mainstay of this treatment. With the use of these medications, the overall prognosis of patients with PAH has improved considerably, along with increased survival rates. Patients who do not tolerate these drugs or do not respond satisfactorily to these medications can be started on Ayurvedic treatment.
Ayurvedic herbal medicines reduce inflammation, reduce blockage, bring about vessel dilatation, and reduce resistance. Herbal medicines which act on blood, blood vessels, lung tissue, as well as the gastrointestinal system are used in combinations to bring about maximum benefit to patients. It is also important to treat the known causes of PAH. Multi pronged herbal therapy which acts on several tissues has a much better clinical effect and the patient gets sustained benefit even after cessation of therapy.
Most patients with mild to moderate severity of PAH get significant relief with about 8-12 months of treatment and maintain themselves well even without drugs for several years. Adequate life style modifications are required so that the chances for recurrence are completely avoided or minimized. Smoking, obesity, consumption of alcohol and stimulant drugs, sustained physical exertion, and prolonged exposure to cold may exacerbate or aggravate this condition, and therefore need to be steadfastly avoided. This condition is known to have a hereditary component; hence close relatives of affected individuals need to get themselves thoroughly investigated for a timely diagnosis.
Ayurvedic herbal treatment can thus be judiciously utilized in the comprehensive management of PAH.