Most complications of pulmonary edema may arise from the complications associated with the underlying cause. More specifically, pulmonary edema can cause severely compromised oxygenation of the blood by the lungs. This poor oxygenation (hypoxia) can potentially lead to diminished oxygen delivery to different body organs, such as the brain.
If pulmonary edema continues, it can raise pressure in the pulmonary artery (pulmonary hypertension), and eventually the right ventricle in your heart becomes weak and begins to fail. The right ventricle has a much thinner wall of muscle than does the left side of your heart because it is under less pressure to pump blood into the lungs. The increased pressure backs up into the right atrium and then into various parts of your body, where it can cause:
- Lower extremity and abdominal swelling
- Buildup of fluid in the membranes that surround your lungs (pleural effusion)
- Congestion and swelling of the liver
When not treated, acute pulmonary edema can be fatal. In some instances, it may be fatal even if you receive treatment.