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November 19, 2000


Question from India:

I am trying to collect information about pulmonary edema. My 56 year old mother has had diabetes for 15 years and has been on insulin for five to six years. Her kidney efficiency has slowly deteriorated. This has led to the problem of what doctors say is pulmonary edema. The fluid gets accumulated in her lungs, and she has breathlessness. Once the fluid is extracted, her breathing eases.


From: DTeam Staff

Unfortunately, your mother’s problems with pulmonary edema are probably the result of longstanding problems related to the heart’s ability to pump blood forward. Coronary heart disease, diabetic cardiomyopathy, and the dysfunction of the kidneys are all contributing factors. It should also be noted that when the kidneys don’t work appropriately, there is more fluid to pump (using a pump which may already be compromised). The best course of action is work with her physician to find a combination of medications which will unload the heart from the increased strains of pumping. This usually requires the combination of diuretics and other medications (such as agents called ACE inhibitors). A decrease in salt intake to decrease the buildup of fluid is also important. You may also see what her physician says about prospects to improve her kidney function or use dialysis to decrease the buildup of fluid in her body.