Pulmonary Hypertension: Diagnosis

The diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension (PH) can be difficult and is often delayed until the disease has progressed. PH cannot be diagnosed non-invasively.

An ultrasound of the heart, or echocardiogram, can provide an estimate of the pressure in the heart.

Only a procedure called a right heart catheterization (RHC) can directly measure blood pressure in the lungs and determine if PH is present. RHC can also be used to determine if PH is responsive to intravenous vasodilator medication, which in turn determines whether or not an individual is a candidate for chronic medication treatment.

Other tests are performed to screen for associated diseases, including blood tests, EKG, chest X-ray, pulmonary function testing, and a test for lung blood clots called a ventilation/perfusion scan (V/Q scan). A 6 minute walk time is typically performed to assess an individual's exercise capacity.