Yi-Ting Hsieh1, Tai-Ying Lee1, Jui-Shih Kao1, Hsin-Lin Hsu1, Chee-Fah Chong1,2

1Emergency Department, Shin-Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital, Taipei City, Taiwan
2School of Medicine, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Keywords: Pulmonary edema, Nitroglycerin, Emergency department


Acute pulmonary edema due to sympathetic surge and increased peripheral vascular resistance often present to the emergency department (ED) with markedly elevated blood pressure, severe dyspnea, and desaturation. This condition is known as “SCAPE” (sympathetic crashing acute pulmonary edema). We present three SCAPE patients who were successfully treated with high-dose nitroglycerin (NTG) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) ventilation. All three patients presented with respiratory failure on arrival but rapidly improved after treatment and did not require endotracheal intubation or admission to the intensive care unit (ICU). SCAPE patients usually present to the ED with extreme respiratory distress associated with diaphoresis, restlessness, and high blood pressure. Emergency physicians must know how to manage SCAPE with high-dose nitrates and NIPPV (noninvasive positive pressure ventilation) because, when treated promptly, one will not only save a life but also obviate the need for endotracheal intubation and ICU admission.