Pulmonary edema is a medical emergency and
requires immediate care. Although it can sometimes
prove fatal, the outlook is often good when you
receive prompt treatment along with therapy for the
Your lungs contain millions of small, elastic air
sacs called alveoli. With each breath, these air
sacs take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, a
waste product of
metabolism. Normally, the exchange
of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place without
problems. But sometimes increased pressure in the
blood vessels in your lungs forces fluid into the
air sacs, filling your lungs with fluid and
preventing them from absorbing oxygen - a condition
called pulmonary edema.
Pulmonary edema often isn't preventable, but these measures can help
reduce your risk:
Preventing cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of pulmonary edema. You can
reduce your risk of many kinds of heart problems by following these
More than 50 million Americans have high blood pressure
(hypertension), which can lead to serious conditions such as stroke,
cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. Most adults should have
their blood pressure checked at least once every two years. This
noninvasive and painless procedure uses an inflatable cuff that
wraps around your upper arm. The test takes just a few minutes.
Under new, stricter national blood pressure guidelines issued in May
2003, a resting blood pressure reading below 120/80 millimeters of
mercury (mm Hg) is considered normal. If your resting blood pressure
is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher, you have high blood
pressure. A reading in between these levels places you in the prehypertensive category. But in many cases, you can lower your
blood pressure or maintain a healthy level by getting regular
exercise, eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and low-fat
dairy products, and limiting alcohol and coffee.
Cholesterol is one
of several types of fats essential to good health. But too much
cholesterol can be too much of a good thing. Higher-than-normal
cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia) can cause fatty deposits
to form in your arteries, impeding blood flow and increasing your
risk of vascular disease. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can often
keep your cholesterol levels low. This includes limiting fats to no
more than 30 percent of your diet, eating more fiber, fish, soy
foods, and fresh fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly,
stopping smoking, and drinking in moderation.
If you smoke, the most important thing you can do for your heart and
lung health is to stop. Continuing to smoke increases your risk of a
second heart attack or heart-related death and your risk of lung
cancer and other lung problems such as emphysema. What's more,
you're at risk even if you don't smoke but live or work with someone
who does. Exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to be a
contributing factor to coronary artery disease. If you can't stop
smoking by yourself, ask your doctor to prescribe a treatment plan
to help you quit.
Fish is one of the cornerstones of a heart-healthy diet — it
contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help improve blood cholesterol
levels and prevent blood clots. It's also important to eat plenty of
fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants — vitamins and
minerals that help prevent everyday wear and tear on your coronary
arteries. Limit your intake of all types of fats to no more than 30
percent of your daily calories, and animal (saturated) and trans
fats (hydrogenated oils) to 10 percent or less.
It's especially important to limit your salt intake if you have
heart disease. In some people with impaired left ventricular
function, excess salt — even in a single meal — may be enough to
trigger congestive heart failure. If you're having a hard time
cutting back on salt, you may find it helpful to talk to a
dietitian. He or she can help point out high-sodium foods as well as
offer tips for making a low-salt diet interesting and good tasting.
Once you adopt your new eating plan, you may find you don't miss
salt at all — most Americans consume much more salt than they need.
Exercise is vital for a healthy heart. Regular aerobic exercise
helps maintain a healthy weight, controls blood pressure and
cholesterol levels, helps prevent diabetes and maintains muscle
tone. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. If
you're not used to exercise, start out slowly and build up
Being just 10 percent overweight increases your risk of
cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, losing only 5 to 10
pounds can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of
Adequate folic acid may reduce blood levels of
homocysteine, an amino acid that builds and maintains tissues. Too
much homocysteine can promote atherosclerosis — the formation of
plaques in your arteries. To get 400 micrograms of folic acid a day,
eat green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes, peanuts and
cereal grains. If you're not sure how much folic acid you're getting
from your diet, talk to your doctor about a folic acid supplement,
or choose a multivitamin supplement that contains 400 micrograms of
To reduce your risk of heart problems, try to reduce your stress
levels. Rethink workaholic habits and find healthy ways to minimize
or deal with stressful events in your life.
you travel or climb at high altitudes, acclimate yourself slowly.
Although recommendations vary, most experts advise ascending no more
than 1,000 or 2,000 feet a day once you reach 8,000 feet. In addition,
drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The higher you ascend the more
rapidly you breathe, which means you lose larger amounts of water in the
air you exhale from your lungs. Finally, although being physically fit
won't necessarily prevent HAPE, people in good condition tend to be less
stressed at high altitudes.
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judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and
treatment options of a specific patient's medical
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