Pulmonary Hypertension | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes pulmonary hypertension?

Many things can cause pulmonary hypertension. However, sometimes the cause isn’t known. When the cause of pulmonary hypertension isn't known, it is called idiopathic pulmonary hypertension (IPH).

When pulmonary hypertension develops because of another medical condition, it is called secondary pulmonary hypertension. Breathing problems such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, as well as sleep apnea, are common causes of secondary pulmonary hypertension. Other causes include the following: 

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Birth defects in the heart
  • Chronic pulmonary thromboembolism (blood clots in the pulmonary arteries)
  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Cirrhosis (a chronic liver disease)
  • Lupus
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (a condition that causes scarring in the lungs)
  • Certain medicines


Diagnosis and Treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension by TD Nauser, MD; SW Stites, MD (American Family Physician May 01, 2001, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010501/1789.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 05/01