Why is edema related to cardiovascular disease?

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ako6777's profile pic

ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Edema is a swelling of the tissues.  It usually occurs in the legs.  Edema is a common symptom associated with heart failure.  Heart failure leads to sodium retention and sodium retention causes the retention of fluid in the body.  The fluid builds up in the lower legs due to gravity's pull on the fluids. In individuals with congestive heart failure, the heart no longer pumps efficiently and causes fluid to build up in the lungs and other parts of the body.  Edema may also occur due other problems such as kidney, liver, and lung disease.

To check for edema, you press your finger into the possible swollen area and if an indentation is left you have swelling. 

dano7744's profile pic

dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Edema or swelling of tissues caused by retention of fluids is commonly seen in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).  The heart is a pump that delivers blood throughout the body. In CHF, the pumping action of the heart is diminished. Blood and the fluids in blood cause "congestion" because of the hearts inability to function normally as a pump.

Edema may be present in the lungs, this is called pulmonary edema. PE causes dyspnea (difficulty breathing). If the edema is noted in the legs,ankles, or feet it is called peripheral edema. Most patients with CHF also have edema either in the lungs or in peripheral structures.  

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