Diagnosis and management of cardiogenic pulmonary edema

Acta Med Indones. 2010 Jul;42(3):176-84.


Acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema (ACPE) is a common cardiogenic emergency with a quite high in-hospital mortality rate. ACPE is defined as pulmonary edema with increased secondary hydrostatic capillary pressure due to elevated pulmonary venous pressure. Increased hydrostatic pressure may result from various causes including excessive administration of intravascular volume, obstruction of pulmonary venous outflow or secondary left ventricular failure due to left ventricular systolic or diastolic dysfunction. ACPE must be distinguished from pulmonary edema associated with injury of alveolar capillary membrane caused by various etiologies, i.e. direct pulmonary injury such as pneumonia and indirect pulmonary injury such as sepsis. Numerous clinical manifestations may differentiate ACPE and Non-ACPE. ACPE usually presents with a history of acute cardiac catastrophe. Physical examination reveals a low-flow state, S3 gallop, jugular venous distention and fine crepitant rales with auscultation. The diagnosis of pulmonary edema is made based on symptoms and clinical signs are found through history taking, physical examination, ECG, chest X-ray, echocardiography and laboratory tests including blood gas analysis and specific biomarkers. Medical treatment of ACPE has 3 main objectives, i.e.: (1) reduced venous return (preload reduction); (2) reduced resistance of systemic vascular (afterload reduction); and (3) inotropic support in some cases. Treatment that can be administered includes: vasodilator when there is normal or high BP, diuretics when there is volume overload or fluid retention, and inotropic drugs when there is hypotension or signs of organ hypoperfusion. Intubation and mechanical ventilation may be necessary to achieve adequate oxygenation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods*
  • Pulmonary Edema* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Edema* / etiology
  • Pulmonary Edema* / therapy
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Shock, Cardiogenic / complications*
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Sodium Potassium Chloride Symporter Inhibitors
  • Vasodilator Agents