Pulmonary hypertension is treated with medications, surgery and lifestyle changes. You and your doctor will decide what treatment options are best for you.


Several types of medications can be used to treat pulmonary hypertension. They include the following:

Calcium channel blockers (e.g., amlodipine, diltiazem, nifedipine) may help to reduce pressure in the pulmonary arteries by relaxing and widening the arteries, but they only work in about 20% of those with pulmonary hypertension. If they do work, calcium channel blockers are the most effective medications for treating pulmonary hypertension. Side effects can include dizziness, headache, and upset stomach.

Prostacyclins (e.g., epoprostenol, treprostinil) are medications usually given by injection. Epoprostenol is given continuously through a catheter into a large vein just before the vein enters the heart. People taking this medication must have extensive education in the preparation of the medication, in the use of the pumps that carry the medication into the vein, and in the care of the catheter. Treprostinil can be given continuously by injection into a vein or under the skin. Side effects of this group of medications are usually mild and can include nausea, diarrhea, leg pain, and flushing.

Endothelin-receptor antagonists (e.g., bosentan, ambrisentan) can also be used to treat pulmonary hypertension. They help to relax or widen the blood vessels. They are given in tablet form. Since this group of medications can affect liver function, your liver function will be tested regularly while taking them. Other side effects include swollen feet or legs and stuffy nose.

Sildenafil works by opening blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily through the pulmonary artery. The most common side effects with sildenafil are headache, flushing, and nausea. It should not be taken if you are also taking nitrate medications (e.g., nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate).

Other medications that may be prescribed to manage pulmonary hypertension include diuretics (e.g., furosemide, metolazone, spironolactone) to help reduce swelling caused by fluid retention, and coumadin or low-molecular-weight heparins (e.g., dalteparin, enoxaparin) to help prevent blood clots.

You'll find more information about the medications used to manage pulmonary hypertension in our drug database.


Lung transplantation is the procedure of last resort for people with primary pulmonary hypertension. Heart-lung, double-lung, and single-lung transplants have all been used.

Lifestyle changes

If you have pulmonary hypertension, you should avoid smoking and medications that can worsen pulmonary hypertension (e.g., pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine). You may also be asked by your doctor to limit exercise.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team