Although medical treatment can't cure pulmonary hypertension, it can lessen symptoms. Lifestyle changes also can help improve your condition. You should:
March 27, 2013
- Get plenty of rest. Resting can reduce the fatigue that may come from having pulmonary hypertension.
- Stay as active as possible. Even the mildest forms of activity may be too exhausting for some people with pulmonary hypertension. For others, moderate exercise such as walking may be beneficial, and using oxygen during exercise may be especially helpful. But first, talk to your doctor about specific exercise restrictions. In most cases, it's recommended that you not lift more than 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms). Your doctor can help you plan an appropriate exercise program.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, the most important thing you can do for your heart and lung health is to stop. If you can't stop smoking by yourself, ask your doctor to prescribe a treatment plan to help you quit. Also, avoid secondhand smoke if possible.
- Avoid becoming pregnant or using birth control pills. If you're a woman of childbearing age, avoid becoming pregnant. Pregnancy can be life-threatening for both you and your baby. Also avoid using birth control pills, which can increase your risk of blood clots. Talk to your doctor about alternative forms of birth control.
- Avoid traveling to or living at high altitudes. High altitudes can worsen the symptoms of pulmonary hypertension. If you live at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) or higher, your doctor may recommend that you move to a lower elevation.
- Avoid situations that can excessively lower blood pressure. These include sitting in a hot tub or sauna or taking long hot baths or showers. These activities lower your blood pressure and cause fainting or even death. You should also avoid activities that cause prolonged straining, such as lifting heavy objects or weights.
- Find ways to reduce stress. These can range from yoga, meditation and biofeedback to warm baths, music or a good book. Try to allow at least 30 minutes a day for an activity you find relaxing. Many people with pulmonary hypertension find that simply reducing stress can greatly improve the quality of their lives.
- Follow a nutritious diet and stay at a healthy weight. It's likely your doctor will recommend limiting the amount of salt in your diet to minimize swelling of your body's tissues (edema). Most experts agree that you should eat no more than 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams of salt a day. Keep in mind that processed foods often are high in salt, so it's important to check labels carefully.
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