Pulmonary Edema


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Definition of and differentiation of Pulmonary Edema

This is a difficulty in breathing caused by the collection of extra fluids in the parenchyma cells of the lungs. There are two types of pulmonary edema namely cardiogenic pulmonary edema and non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema. While cardiogenic pulmonary edema is caused by the dysfunction of the left ventricles to sufficiently take away blood from pulmonic circulation, non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema is caused by injuries to the parenchyma cells of the lungs. A sudden rise in the pressure exerted by the fluids on the capillaries of the heart also causes cardiogenic edema (Glaus, Lang & Schellenberg, 2010). Doctors make a distinction between the two conditions by conducting several physical tests and radiographic scans on the patient.

Radiographic scans revealing an accumulation of fluids on the heart surface is a diagnosis for non-cardiogenic edema (Fleisher & Ludwig, 2010).Patients who complain of difficulty in breathing due to a feeling of increase in pressure on the heart are diagnosed of cardiogenic pulmonary edema. People who have hypertension are more likely to contract pulmonary edema since their hearts are not fully fit to pump blood. Damage to the left side of the heart is directly linked to pulmonary edema since the aortic valve, mitral valve, left ventricle, aorta and left atrium drive out blood with oxygen from the heart (Glaus et al., 2010). The failure of some body organs like the kidney can also lead to dilation and contraction of blood vessels connected to left ventricles thus causing cardiogenic pulmonary edema. Exposure to some specific toxins could also lead to contraction of non-cardiac pulmonary edema.

New Studies about Pulmonary Edema

Apart from toxins like ammonia, new studies done on the causes of pulmonary edema reveal that there are certain poisonous elements in smoke that injure the membranes separating capillaries and air sacs in the heart (Mayo Clinic, 2012). This membrane prevents fluids from getting into the lungs therefore if it is destroyed, the individual will contract non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema. Reactions from different drugs in the body also emit gases that could lead to non-cardiogenic edema. These reactions could be between two or more legal drugs or between a legal drug like aspirin and an illegal drug like heroin. People who live in high altitude areas above two thousand four hundred meters are also at risk of contracting pulmonary edema because of insufficiency of oxygen in the air they breathe. Increased pressure in such high places leads to the constriction of blood vessels in the heart therefore reducing the amount of blood being circulated (Mayo Clinic, 2012). Also, in cases where an individual inhales water, some blood vessels in the heart is blocked temporarily therefore making breathing difficult. This blockage could lead to non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema.

Preventing the Development of Pulmonary Edema

Doctors recommend regulation of blood pressure as one of the ways for prohibiting the growth of pulmonary edema. Adults must keep their blood pressure in check, stick to fruit-rich, low fat meals and perform physical exercises. Alcoholism and smoking are also discouraged. Smoking leads to lung cancer that adversely affects the performance of the heart and could cause heart attacks. Doctors also recommend that people should eat foods that enhance the performance of the heart and purify the blood. Fish is recommended since it prevents the clotting of blood that blocks blood vessels (Mayo Clinic, 2012). Stress management is also vital in preventing heart problems. Taking enough breaks from work and seeking professional counseling helps in avoiding stress that leads to increase in blood cholesterol levels.


Glaus, T., Lang, J & Schellenberg, S. (2010). Cardiogenic and Non-Cardiogenic Pulmonary Edema: Pathomechanisms and Causes. PubMed.gov. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. 152(7): 311-7. 10.1024/0036-7281/a000073.

Mayo Clinic. (2012). Pulmonary Edema. Prevention. In MayoClinic.com. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pulmonary-edema/DS00412/DSECTION=prevention.

Ludwig, S., Fleisher, R. G. (2010). Textbook of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


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