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Fluid Overload

What is Fluid Overload?

Fluid overload or volume overload (hypervolemia), is a medical condition where there is too much fluid in the blood. Excess fluid, primarily salt and water, builds up throughout the body resulting in weight gain. You may see the following signs or symptoms:

  • Noticeable swelling in the legs and arms (peripheral edema)
  • Fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • Extreme generalized edema / swelling of the skin (anasarca)
  • Accumulation in the fluid-filled space that surrounds the lungs (pleural effusion)

Fluid overload can be caused by many things but specifically through disease from other diagnoses such as heart failure, nephrotic syndrome (A kidney disorder that causes the body to leak too much protein in the urine), and liver damage or kidney failure.1 Fluid overload can also be found through excessive fluid and sodium intake due to IV or fluids during surgical operations, such as AF ablation, valve repair or replacement, or other cardio/thoracic procedures. Finally, fluid remobilization after treatment for burns or trauma.

Fluid Overload and Heart Failure Statistics

Heart Failure (HF) is a significant concern in the US population with its high prevalence and medical cost. Annual hospitalization for HF exceed 1 million in both the United States and Europe, and more than 90% are due to symptoms and signs of fluid overload. 2  Treatment for fluid overload in HF patients is one of the most common causes of hospital inpatient admissions in patients age 65 and over. 3,4

    • Average HF-related hospital stay is approximately 5 days 5
    • HF re-hospitalization rates within six months following discharge up to 50% 2
    • Nearly 50% of Acute Decompensated HF patients discharged from the hospital with weight gain or losing less than 5 lbs 6
    • Total direct costs for HF were estimated to be $60.2 billion for HF as the primary diagnosis in the US 7


1. James L. Lewis, III, MD. Volume Overload. Merck Manual (Professional Version). Aug 2014.
2. Costanzo MR et al. JACC. 2017;69(19):2428-45.
3. Hunt SA et al. J Am Coll Cardiol.2009;53(15)e1-e90.
4. Pfuntner A et al. HCUP 2013
5. Chen J, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Mar 12; 61(10): 1078-1088.
6. Gheorghiade M, Filippatos G. Eur Heart J. 2005 Mar 15;7 (Suppl): B13-B19
7. Voigt J. et al. Clin Cardiol. 2014;37(5):312-312.

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