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What is the connection to lack of oxygen and heart failure?

If an Alpha develops severe lung disease, he/she may also develop a problem with their heart known as pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is when the blood pressure within the lungs is too high. It places strain on the right side of the heart which can cause right heart failure if it progresses. Pulmonary hypertension is caused by two problems in patients with advancing emphysema. First, the lung damage causes injury to the small blood vessels (capillaries). Second, low oxygen levels cause the blood vessels in the lungs to constrict. Both problems in the Alpha-1 related lung disease contribute to pulmonary hypertension. Therefore, ensuring adequate oxygenation is an important component to the therapy plan in Alpha-1. The good news is that these problems will resolve after lung transplantation.

Alpha-1-To-One, Winter 2018
Steven R. Hays, MD
Professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep Medicine, and medical director of the Advanced Lung Disease and Lung Transplant Program of the University of California, San Fransisco (USCF).