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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (cont.)

What is the outlook for ARDS?

  • Outlook of persons with ARDS has improved over the last 20 years and a majority of people survive.
  • Persons with a poor outlook include those older than 65 years and those with sepsis as the underlying cause. The adverse effect of age may be related to the underlying health status.
  • Survivors of ARDS may recover normal lung function. However, some of them may have residual lung impairment or persistent muscle weakness. Typically, the lung dysfunction is mild, but ARDS can lead to severe lung damage and a reduced health-related quality of life.
  • Severe disease and prolonged duration of mechanical ventilation are predictors of persistent abnormalities in lung function.

Picture of ARDS

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Anteroposterior (AP) portable chest X-ray film shows an endotracheal tube, left subclavian central venous catheter into the superior vena cava, and bilateral patchy opacities in mostly the middle and lower lung zones. The person had been in respiratory failure for 1 week with the diagnosis of ARDS

X-ray of ARDS
X-ray of ARDS

Medically reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease


"Acute respiratory distress syndrome: Clinical features and diagnosis in adults"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/15/2016
Medical Author:

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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome:

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome »

Since World War I, it has been recognized that some patients with nonthoracic injuries, severe pancreatitis, massive transfusion, sepsis, and other conditions may develop respiratory distress, diffuse lung infiltrates, and respiratory failure sometimes after a delay of hours to days.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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