Understanding Pulmonary Edema

Pulmonary edema is a life-threatening condition in which fluid fills up the air sacs of the lungs as a result of heart disease. You become starved for oxygen and can literally suffocate without immediate emergency treatment.

Causes of Pulmonary

Edema Pulmonary edema is usually caused by a heart attack, disease of the heart valve or, rarely, being at high altitudes. Pressure builds up in the veins going from the lungs to the heart so that fluid is forced out of the veins and into the air sacs of the lungs. Severe shortness of breath, a feeling of suffocating, sweating, pale skin and pink, frothy sputum are characteristic of pulmonary edema. You may have difficulty exhaling, so that you wheeze or grunt while trying to breathe.

A Quick Response Is Essential

Emergency treatment must be given immediately. You will receive oxygen through a mask, or if necessary, a breathing tube inserted in the trachea with mechanical respiration. Diuretics and other drugs will be given intravenously to remove fluid from the lungs and relieve congestion. The heart attack or other cause of the condition must be treated as well.

Preventive Maintenance of Your Heart

To prevent emergencies like pulmonary edema, take care of your heart every day. Make sure you eat a balanced diet that is low in fat, salt and alcohol, and exercise three or more times a week. If you smoke, quit now. It’s the number one risk factor for heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

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