What is Hypervolemia?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 December 2018
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Hypervolemia, also known as fluid overload, is a buildup of too much blood plasma which leads to increased blood volume. The opposite is hypovolemia, in which the blood volume is lower than it would normally be because of decreased plasma. This condition is associated with heart, lung, kidney, and liver problems, and can also be related to other medical issues. Treatment for the condition varies, depending on the cause and the patient's general condition. While hospitalization is not necessarily required to treat it, the patient may have a condition which necessitates hospital care.

One of the most common causes of hypervolemia is congestive heart failure. As the heart struggles to function, blood begins to back up in the veins, leading to an increase in fluid in the veins. The kidneys also start to fail and are no longer able to express excess fluid from the body. Liver failure can contribute to an abnormally high level of blood plasma, as can lung problems, and often these problems are interconnected.


People can also develop hypervolemia as a result of certain medications which cause buildups of fluid in the body, such as some chemotherapy drugs. Excess intravenous fluids can also lead to a rise in blood volume. When someone is at risk for hypervolemia, a doctor may recommend some steps which can be taken to head this condition off at the pass and the patient will also be told to self monitor very closely for any symptoms so that intervention can be provided quickly if this condition does manifest.

When someone develops hypervolemia, edema can appear. Edema causes the arms and legs to swell as fluid builds up inside them. Deposits of fluid in the abdomen known as ascites can also be seen in some patients. Pulmonary edema is another complication of hypervolemia. People with pulmonary edema may have trouble breathing and can have a chronic cough. Especially after lying down for an extended period of time, the patient may experience extreme difficulty breathing.

Medications can be used to help patients express the excess fluid, such as diuretics. Patients may also be encouraged to reduce the amount of salt in their diets to reduce the load on the kidneys so that the kidneys can function better. If these measures do not work, a procedure known as ultrafiltration can be used to filter out some of the excess fluid from the blood to make the patient more comfortable.


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Post 3

I had hypervolemia when I was pregnant. My doctor said that since hormones increase in pregnancy, it causes the body to hold sodium and water and leads to hypervolemia.

I read a little bit about it after my visit and was really concerned that it would effect my heart and eventually the baby. But it turns out that a healthy heart adapts to excess water in the body.

My pregnancy went well with no complications and I had a healthy baby.

Post 2

Actually I read about this in a sports magazine. Hypervolemia happens with all of us naturally after exercise and then slowly disappears.

So it's not necessarily bad for it to happen sometimes. But it poses a problem if it's consistent and there is way too much buildup.

Post 1

If the underlying cause of hypervolemia is heart failure and action is taken right away to treat it, can kidney and lung failure be prevented?

It seems like it's a domino effect, how the heart problem leads to kidney and lung trouble and hypervolemia. I can imagine that if the underlying condition isn't treated right away, the symptoms would get worse pretty quickly.

It's also good that hypervolemia happens, as long as there is a visible symptom like swelling of course. Because that can be a clear sign to the doctor that there is something wrong with the heart and they can do something about it.

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