Pathophysiology of pulmonary edema

Critical care nursing quarterly 12/1994; 17(3):21-6. DOI: 10.1097/00002727-199411000-00004
Source: PubMed


Pulmonary edema is a frequent and common cause of death in patients in critical care settings. It is seen as a complication of myocardial infarcts, hypertension, pneumonia, smoke inhalation, and high-altitude pulmonary edema. Pulmonary edema occurs when there are alterations in Starling forces and capillary permeability, opposition to lymphatic flow in the lungs, decreased plasma oncotic pressure, central nervous system lesions, and following some types of strenuous exercise. Pulmonary edema presents initially with crackles, wheezing, and dry cough and progresses to tachypnea, dyspnea, orthopnea, pink frothy sputum, and cyanosis. Treatment involves supportive therapy, reduction in blood volume, and oxygen therapy.

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