Management of Acute Cardiogenic Pulmonary Edema: A Literature Review

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Acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema (CPE) is a pathology frequently seen in patients presenting to emergency departments (EDs) and can usually be attributed to preexisting cardiovascular disease. Heart failure alone accounts for more than 1 million hospital admissions annually and has one of the highest ED morbidity and mortality to date (Hunt et al., 2005). Historically, CPE has been managed by the treating clinician in a manner that is based largely on anecdotal evidence. Furosemide (Lasix), morphine, and nitroglycerin have historically been the baseline standard for drug therapy in CPE management. A lack of drastic improvement in the patient's condition over the course of the ED visit may reflect a management style that results in higher morbidity and mortality for CPE patients. Several recent articles provide evidence-based outcomes that suggest changing standard therapy along with the adjunctive use of other medications. These articles also describe treatment modalities that result in a marked improvement in the management of patients with CPE along with decreases in adverse outcomes and hospital length of stay. The goal of this article is to present a summary of the evidence regarding the management of CPE and discuss the implications for current practice.

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