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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 will 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

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is the leading cause of fluid overload with an annual incidence of HF is 10 per 1,000 patients over the age of 65 years.²³ Of these heart failure patients, 90% present symptoms of fluid overload.⁴ The following statistics emphasize the growing problem in the US associated with heart failure, fluid overload, and the burden to hospital economics and efficiency.

  • Almost 1 million hospitalizations annually in the United States for acute HF⁵
  • Average HF-related hospital stay is approximately 5 days⁶
  • HF re-hospitalization rates within six months following discharge up to 50%⁷8
  • Nearly 50% of Acute Decompensated HF patients discharged from the hospital with weight gain or losing less than 5 lbs⁹
  • Total cost of heart failure in the US is projected to increase from $31 billion in 2012 to $70 billion in 2030¹⁰


1. James L. Lewis, III, MD. Volume Overload. Merck Manual (Professional Version). Aug 2014.
2. Gheorghiade M et. al. Am J Med 2006 Dec; 119(12 Suppl 1):S3-S10.
3. Mozaffarian D, et al. Circulation. 2016 Jan 26; 133(4): e38-e360.
4. Costanzo MR, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Feb 13; 49(6): 675-683.
5. Gheorghiade M, Filippatos G. Eur Heart J. 2005 Mar 15; 7 (Suppl): B13-B19.
6. Chen J, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Mar 12; 61(10): 1078-1088.
7. Ross JS, et al. Circ Heart Fail. 2010 Jan; 3(1): 97-103.
8. Desai AS, Stevenson LW. Circulation. 2012 Jul 24; 126(4): 501-506.
9. Heidenreich PA, et al. Circ Heart Fail. 2013 May; 6(3): 606-619.
10. Adhere National Benchmark Report Data, January 2001 to April 2006.

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