Pulmonary edema is a clinical condition in which excessive fluid accumulates within the air spaces of the lungs. When this condition occurs suddenly, it is termed Flash Pulmonary Edema.
Flash pulmonary edema symptoms
One of the main manifestations of flash pulmonary edema is that breathing suddenly becomes much more difficult. Coughing up blood is another important symptom. The patient may also feel rapid, pounding heartbeats.
Flash pulmonary edema causes
A heart attack or acute myocardial infarction is a common cause of flash pulmonary edema.
The main function of the heart is to pump blood to the rest of the body, but the heart itself needs blood as well. The blood vessels that supply the heart are called coronary arteries. Many diseases can compromise the blood supply of the heart, depriving the cardiac muscle layer from the oxygen it needs. If the blockage is not resolved in time, a part of the cells in the heart muscle coat can die. This is termed Myocardial Infarction.
Of all the causes of myocardial ischemia and eventual infarction, atherosclerosis is the most common. It occurs due to the accumulation of fat particles in the wall of the arteries through a complex interaction between fat molecules and inflammatory cells in the bloodstream. “Bad cholesterol” or LDL is considered a primary component of the plaque. The affected blood vessel is thus narrowed, allowing less blood to flow through. This occurs in the coronary arteries, usually as the end result, after decades of fat build-up, and leading to myocardial damage.
In the presence of heart muscle damage or death, the heart pumps blood less efficiently. This decreases the amount of blood delivering oxygen to the body, and increases the blood volume accumulating in the heart in each heartbeat. Eventually, the excessive volume and pressure are transmitted to the lung’s blood vessels through the pulmonary veins, which pass blood from the lungs to the heart. With the pulmonary vessels unable to empty their blood into the heart, fluid begins to seep into the air sacs of the lungs, causing flash pulmonary edema.