Scar tissue formation in your lungs can lead to a series of life-threatening complications, including:
LOW BLOOD OXYGEN LEVELS (HYPOXEMIA)
Because interstitial lung disease reduces the amount of oxygen you take in and the amount that enters your bloodstream, you’re likely to develop lower than normal blood oxygen levels. Lack of oxygen can severely disrupt your body’s basic functioning.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IN YOUR LUNGS (PULMONARY HYPERTENSION)
Unlike systemic high blood pressure, this condition affects only the arteries in your lungs. It begins when scar tissue restricts the smallest blood vessels, limiting blood flow in your lungs. This in turn raises pressure within the pulmonary arteries. Pulmonary hypertension is a serious illness that becomes progressively worse.
RIGHT-SIDED HEART FAILURE (COR PULMONALE)
This serious condition occurs when your heart’s lower right chamber (right ventricle) — which is less muscular than the left — has to pump harder than usual to move blood through obstructed pulmonary arteries. Eventually the right ventricle fails from the extra strain.
In the end stage of chronic interstitial lung disease, respiratory failure occurs when severely low blood oxygen levels along with rising pressures in the pulmonary arteries cause heart failure.