Do you tire easily, are you short of breath or do you have pain occasionally when you breathe? If you have lupus, here are a few things to know, that might explain your symptoms, but you should always talk to your doctor.
Your heart, lungs and blood vessels make up what is known as the Cardiopulmonary Vascular system; where cardio refers to the heart, pulmonary refers to the lungs and vascular refers to the network of blood vessels transporting blood from the heart to the organs and back to the lungs.
The pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs. This blood is then oxygenated as you inhale and sent to the heart through by way of the Pulmonary Vein; where the heart pumps and circulates the blood through the body again. This is the only time in the circulatory system in which an artery carries deoxygenated blood and a vein carries oxygenated blood.
Remember the lining of the heart, the pericardium? Well, the lung has it’s own lining: the pleura and Inflammation of the pleura is called pleuritis. Pleuritis is the most common pulmonary complication of lupus. Among the symptoms of pleuritis are shortness of breath, severe, sharp or stabbing pain when you inhale. This pain is called pleurisy or pleuritic chest pain.
Sometimes lung tissue itself becomes inflamed: pneumonitis. Symptoms of pneumonitis include chest pain, fever and shortness of breath and a cough. Not always infectious, it can have bacterial, viral or fungal causes. On occasion, fluid builds up between the lining of the lung and the chest wall: pleural effusion.
Pulmonary emboli (blood clots) can also form in the arteries and block blood flow to the lungs, causing chest pain and shortness of breath. If lupus patients have antiphosphlipid antibodies, they are at a greater risk of developing these blood clots. For this reason, people with these antibodies often take special medication to thin their blood to prevent clot formation.
Not common in lupus patients is Chronic Interstitial Diffuse Lung Disease: This develops when there is chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation results in scar tissue formation and this causes interference with oxygenation. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a dry cough and chest pains.
Patients with lupus can develop Pulmonary Artery Hypertension: High blood pressure in the lungs. The main symptom of PAH is shortness of breath and can range from mild to severe. There is no cure for Pulmonary Artery Hypertension, though it can be managed.
These may explain your shortness of breath, your pain and fatigue. Again, let your doctor be the judge.