What is the significance of edema in heart failure?

Updated: Jan 26, 2021
  • Author: Ioana Dumitru, MD; Chief Editor: Gyanendra K Sharma, MD, FACC, FASE  more...
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Answer

Although edema is a cardinal manifestation of heart failure, it does not correlate well with the level of systemic venous pressure. In patients with chronic LV failure and low cardiac output, extracellular fluid volume may be sufficiently expanded to cause edema in the presence of only slight elevations in systemic venous pressure. Usually, a substantial gain of extracellular fluid volume (ie, a minimum of 5 L in adults) must occur before peripheral edema develops. Edema in the absence of dyspnea or other signs of LV or right ventricular (RV) failure is not solely indicative of heart failure and can be observed in many other conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, nephrotic syndrome, or other syndromes of hypoproteinemia or osmotic imbalance.


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