Inability of Acute Cardiac Failure to Cause Peripheral Edema

Acute left heart failure can cause terrific and rapid congestion of the lungs, with development of pulmonary edema and even death within minutes to hours.

However, either left or right heart failure is very slow to cause peripheral edema. This can best be explained by referring to Figure 22-3. When a previously healthy heart acutely fails as a pump, the aortic pressure falls and the right atrial pressure rises. As the cardiac output approaches zero, these two pressures approach each other at an equilibrium value of about 13 mm Hg. Capillary pressure also falls from its normal value of 17 mm Hg to the new equilibrium pressure

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