Which cardiovascular 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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Cardiovascular findings are usually notable for S3, accentuation of the pulmonic component of S2, and jugular venous distention. Auscultation of murmurs can help in the diagnosis of acute valvular disorders manifesting with pulmonary edema.

Aortic stenosis is associated with a harsh crescendo-decrescendo systolic murmur, which is heard best at the upper sternal border and radiating to the carotid arteries. In contrast, acute aortic regurgitation is associated with a short, soft diastolic murmur.

Acute mitral regurgitation produces a loud systolic murmur heard best at the apex or lower sternal border. In the setting of ischemic heart disease, this may be a sign of acute MI with rupture of mitral valve chordae. (See the image below.)

Radiograph shows acute pulmonary edema in a patien Radiograph shows acute pulmonary edema in a patient who was admitted with acute anterior myocardial infarction. Findings are vascular redistribution, indistinct hila, and alveolar infiltrates.

Mitral stenosis typically produces a loud S1, opening snap, and diastolic rumble at the cardiac apex.

Another notable physical finding is skin pallor or mottling resulting from peripheral vasoconstriction, low cardiac output, and shunting of blood to the central circulation in patients with poor LV function and substantially increased sympathetic tone. Skin mottling at presentation is an independent predictor of an increased risk of in-hospital mortality.

Patients with concurrent right ventricular (RV) failure may present with hepatomegaly, hepatojugular reflux, and peripheral edema.

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