Rapid improvement of acute pulmonary edema with sublingual captopril

R. J. Hamilton, W. A. Carter, E. J. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Objective: To test the hypothesis that sublingual captopril produces a more rapid improvement of acute pulmonary edema (APE) than does placebo, when added to a standard regimen of O2, nitrates, morphine, and furosemide. Methods: Prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial in an urban teaching hospital ED. Adults brought to the ED with APE were given captopril or placebo sublingually. Every 5 minutes a clinical APE distress score (APEX) was obtained. Results: Over the first 40 minutes of treatment, the mean APEXs were significantly better for the patients given captopril [p < 0.001, F = 14.5, one-way (repeated-measures) analysis of variance (ANOVA)]. At 30 minutes, the patients given captopril had a mean APEX improvement of 43% (i.e., to 57% of initial distress); the group given the current standard regimen plus placebo improved only 25% (i.e., to 75% of initial distress; p = 0.03, multiway ANOVA). In addition, there was less respiratory failure necessitating mechanical ventilation in the captopril patients (9%) vs the placebo patients (20%), which did not achieve significance (p = 0.10, Fisher's exact test). Conclusion: In APE, the addition of sublingual captopril to the standard regimen of O2, nitrates, morphine, and furosemide produces more rapid clinical improvement than does the standard regimen alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • angiotensin- converting enzyme inhibitor
  • captopril
  • congestive heart failure
  • pulmonary edema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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