DEAR DR. DONOHUE: In April of this year, my doctor told me that I had high blood pressure in my lungs. I have never heard of this, and neither have others I have talked to. On the day he told me that, my blood pressure was 92/66. The following month, it was 95/70. I believe these are good readings.

Your answer will be appreciated. – V.S.

ANSWER:
We have two different and completely separate blood pressures. One is body blood pressure – systemic blood pressure. That’s the pressure the doctor takes when wrapping the cuff around your arm. The two readings you listed are your body blood pressures. This is the kind of blood pressure that, when high, is called hypertension. Your numbers are great.

The lungs have their own blood pressure. Their pressure is only one-fifth the pressure of body blood pressure. The lungs are delicate structures and cannot tolerate the relatively high pressures that the body can withstand. Lung pressures are measured only in very special ways. You can’t wrap a blood pressure cuff around a lung to obtain its pressure. There are some noninvasive ways to approximate what pulmonary pressure (as lung blood pressure is called) is, but for an exact reading, the pressure is measured with a catheter snaked into the heart from a surface blood vessel. A catheter is a soft, slender, pliable tube.

The chief symptom of high lung blood pressure is breathlessness. Do you have that? You didn’t mention you had any symptoms.

Sometimes lung blood pressure rises due to another illness. Heart failure can raise lung blood pressure. So can illnesses like lupus and scleroderma.

How did you doctor make this diagnosis? Did he say he wanted more tests? If it was just an off-the-cuff remark, it might not mean anything. All the same, it’s something you should have him clarify for you.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: What would be the percentage of ethnic background of children born in a marriage between a Polish male and a female whose parents are an Italian father and a German mother? – H.L.

ANSWER:
Were the children born here? Then they’re 100 percent American.

I know what you mean. These children can trace 50 percent of their ancestry to Polish people, 25 percent to Italians and 25 percent to Germans.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com


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