Asthma and pulmonary hypertension are separate conditions that need different treatments. But because they share some symptoms, such as chest discomfort and shortness of breath, misdiagnosis is common.

Asthma and pulmonary hypertension (PH) both affect your lungs, though in different ways. Although they share some symptoms, they also have several distinguishing symptoms. It’s also possible to have asthma and PH at the same time.

Read on to learn more about asthma and PH, including their similarities, differences, possible links, and overall outlook.

Asthma and PH both affect your lungs, but they do so in different ways.

Asthma affects the bronchial tubes, or airways, in your lungs, making them inflamed. Both acute and chronic inflammation can lead to airway constriction, causing classic symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing.

PH is a type of high blood pressure (hypertension) that affects the blood vessels between your lungs and heart. Unlike asthma, which affects your airways, PH affects the arteries in your lungs. Pressure can build up and cause these blood vessels to constrict, leading to low blood oxygen levels in your body.

Although wheezing and coughing are linked with asthma, PH is more likely to cause fatigue and dizziness. Both can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.

Asthma is extremely common, affecting about 7.7% of people in the United States. PH is relatively rare, though experts may underestimate its exact incidence.

There are five “groups” or underlying causes of PH. Lung conditions, low oxygen levels in the body (hypoxia), and obstructive sleep apnea are included in Group 3. Asthma is one possible cause of hypoxia, as it can cause periods of hypoventilation.

Still, there’s no definitive link between asthma and PH. More research is needed to determine whether people with asthma have a higher chance of developing PH.

It’s possible to mistake PH and asthma for each other because of their similar symptoms. Each condition can cause lung-related symptoms, such as chest discomfort and shortness of breath.

However, with asthma, you’re more likely to experience more breathing-related difficulties, such as coughing and wheezing. This is due to asthma’s direct influence on your airways.

PH, on the other hand, can cause other signs and symptoms throughout the body due to increased arterial pressure in your lungs and resulting low blood oxygen (hypoxemia). Unlike people with asthma, people with PH may experience:

Experts also think that doctors may underdiagnose PH because of symptoms they could mistake for asthma or anxiety. Such misdiagnoses can prevent people from getting the treatments they need to prevent heart failure and other life threatening complications.

Although lung conditions may increase the likelihood of PH development in some people, asthma and PH are separate conditions that need different treatments.

Asthma treatments help reduce symptoms and underlying inflammation. Examples include:

PH treatment focuses on slowing disease progression and improving your overall quality of life. This may involve inhaled or oral medications to dilate blood vessels, such as:

Unlike with asthma, severe PH treatment may involve a lung transplant. A doctor may also recommend a heart transplant in cases of significant damage to the right side of your heart.

Asthma is a lifelong condition that requires a combination of management, trigger avoidance, and treatment.

On the flip side, PH may be fatal, especially without prompt diagnosis and treatment. It’s important to contact a doctor if you’re experiencing any possible signs and symptoms of this condition. It’s best not to assume your symptoms are from asthma, as this may delay necessary treatment.

Without treatment, PH gradually weakens the arteries in your lungs, causing increased lung pressure. These effects also make your heart work harder, eventually increasing the likelihood of right sided heart disease and heart failure.

Consider the following frequently asked questions about asthma and PH. You may wish to discuss these further with a doctor if you have one or both of these conditions.

Does albuterol help with pulmonary hypertension?

Albuterol is a common asthma treatment. It’s a bronchodilator, which means it widens your airways. Bronchodilators like albuterol aren’t a first-line treatment for PH.

However, research is ongoing regarding using albuterol to help with chest tightness and breathing problems related to PH.

How does asthma affect lung pressure?

PH can increase blood pressure within your lungs’ arteries. Asthma doesn’t cause the same type of pressure.

Asthma can, however, cause chest pain and tightness that can feel like pressure in your lungs. Unlike PH, asthma causes chest discomfort due to airway inflammation and chronic cough.

What lung conditions cause pulmonary hypertension?

Not all cases of PH are due to lung disease. But certain lung conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, and emphysema, can be a cause. Asthma may also contribute to PH since it may cause hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen in the tissues of your body.

Doctors classify PH due to chronic lung conditions as Group 3 PH.

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects your airways. PH is a separate condition that affects your lungs and heart. Because they share some symptoms, it’s possible to mistake them for each other, sometimes leading to misdiagnosis and delayed treatment.

If you have any symptoms of either condition, it’s important to contact a doctor for a prompt and accurate diagnosis.