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Causes of Pulmonary Hypertension

Delve into the intricate causes of pulmonary hypertension, unraveling the various factors that lead to this complex cardiovascular disorder.

  • 21 Nov 2023
  • 3 min read

Pulmonary hypertension is a form of high blood pressure that exerts its toll on the intricate network of arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. One subtype, pulmonary arterial hypertension, presents a particularly difficult situation. Pulmonary arterial hypertension causes the blood vessels in the lungs to get narrow, obstructed, or even degenerate. The risk of pulmonary hypertension on one's health is significant. Sadly, there is no cure for this condition. However, the available treatments attempt to improve patients' quality of life, reduce symptoms, and lengthen their lifetime. This gives hope and support to those who are dealing with this challenging condition.


How is Pulmonary Hypertension caused?

There are five groups of pulmonary hypertension. The causes of pulmonary hypertension are different for each group. Let’s check the reason for each type:


  • Group 1: Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
    • The exact cause is unknown and is called idiopathic pulmonary hypertension
    • Heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension results from genetic mutations passed down through families.
    • Use of certain medications or illicit drugs, like methamphetamine.
    • Congenital heart defects
    • Other conditions like scleroderma, lupus, or chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis.


  • Group 2: Pulmonary Hypertension Caused by Left-Sided Heart Disease
    • Stemming from conditions like left heart failure or
    • Left-sided heart valve diseases like mitral valve or aortic valve disease


  • Group 3: Pulmonary Hypertension Caused by Lung Disease
    • Pulmonary fibrosis that causes scarring of lung tissues
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Sleep apnea
    • Prolonged stay at high altitudes


  • Group 4: Pulmonary Hypertension Caused by Chronic Blood Clots or Blockages in the Pulmonary Artery
    • Resulting from chronic blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary emboli)
    • Tumours obstructing the pulmonary artery


  • Group 5: Pulmonary Hypertension Triggered by Other Health Conditions
    • Linked to blood disorders like polycythemia vera and thrombocythemia
    • Inflammatory conditions like sarcoidosis
    • Metabolic disorders (e.g., glycogen storage disease)
    • Kidney disease


  • Eisenmenger Syndrome

Eisenmenger syndrome, a congenital heart disease, can lead to pulmonary hypertension. It typically occurs with unrepaired holes between the chambers of the heart, such as a ventricular septal defect. This causes abnormal blood flow and elevated pressure in the pulmonary arteries.

Also read:

Risk Factors for Pulmonary Hypertension

Several factors can increase the risk of developing pulmonary hypertension:

  • Age: Pulmonary hypertension is typically diagnosed in individuals aged 30 to 60. Advanced age can elevate the risk of group 1 pulmonary hypertension.
  • Family History: A family history of pulmonary hypertension can predispose individuals to the condition.
  • Body Weight: Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of pulmonary hypertension.
  • Smoking: Smoking is a known risk factor for pulmonary hypertension.
  • Blood-Clotting Disorders: Individuals with blood-clotting disorders or a family history of blood clots in the lungs may be at higher risk.
  • Exposure to Asbestos: Occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos is linked to an elevated risk of pulmonary hypertension.



Pulmonary hypertension is a complicated disorder that can affect people of all ages and has a variety of risk factors. While the risk of some forms, such as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), increases with age, it is crucial to remember that PAH with an unknown cause is more common in younger persons. Pulmonary hypertension affects about 1% of people worldwide.

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