Which physical findings are characteristic of cardiogenic pulmonary edema (CPE)?

Updated: Jul 23, 2020
  • Author: Ali A Sovari, MD, FACP, FACC; Chief Editor: Gyanendra K Sharma, MD, FACC, FASE  more...
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Physical findings in patients with CPE are notable for tachypnea and tachycardia. Patients may be sitting upright, they may demonstrate air hunger, and they may become agitated and confused. Patients usually appear anxious and diaphoretic.

Hypertension is often present, because of the hyperadrenergic state. Hypotension indicates severe LV systolic dysfunction and the possibility of cardiogenic shock. Cool extremities may indicate low cardiac output and poor perfusion.

Auscultation of the lungs usually reveals fine, crepitant rales, but rhonchi or wheezes may also be present. Rales are usually heard at the bases first; as the condition worsens, they progress to the apices.

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