Cardiac Edema

Edema is the medical term for swelling. Edema happens when your small blood vessels (arteries and veins) leak fluid into nearby tissues. Doing so creates an excess amount of fluid. As the fluid builds up, the nearby tissues respond by swelling. Cardiac edema occurs when the heart’s diseased or overworked left ventricle (heart’s lower chamber) isn't able to pump out enough of the blood it receives from your lungs. This causes the heart to hold an excess amount of fluid; therefore, swelling.

Cardiac Edema

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Causes of Cardiac Edema

Although cardiac edema is caused by many different reasons, some of the most common causes include:

Symptoms of Cardiac Edema

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of cardiac edema include:

  • Difficulty breathing when lying flat
  • Extreme shortness of breath
  • Swelling in your lower extremities
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of suffocating or drowning
  • Rapid weight gain

Diagnosis of Cardiac Edema

To understand what might be causing your cardiac edema, your doctor will first perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history. After that, you may have:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Cardiac Edema

Treatment of cardiac edema has several options, most noticeable the lifestyle changes; however, medications can also help reduce signs and symptoms. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes


  • Diuretics “water pills” will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.
  • Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.
  • Heart rate medications will help regulate your heartbeat.