Pericardial Tamponade Overview
What is a pericardial tamponade?
The pericardium is a strong sac that surrounds the heart. A person with pericardial tamponade has a collection of blood, fluid or air in the space between the outside of the heart and the pericardium. The presence of blood, fluid or air reduces the amount of space available for the heart, and pressure builds up against the outside walls of the heart. The pressure prevents the heart from filling normally, which reduces the amount of blood delivered to the body and lungs. Pericardial tamponade can be life threatening if the heart is unable to keep up with the demands of the body. The most common causes of pericardial tamponade include chest injury and pericarditis.
What are the symptoms of pericardial tamponade?
Symptoms of a pericardial tamponade include difficulty breathing, faintness, fainting, chest pain, wheezing, and excessive sweating. Severe pericardial tamponade may cause symptoms of shock.
How does the doctor treat pericardial tamponade?
Treatment for pericardial tamponade requires removal of the blood, fluid or air from around the heart. A needle may be used to drain the fluid, or surgery may be required to open the pericardium.
Continue to Pericardial Tamponade Symptoms
- Forauer AR. Pericardial tamponade in patients with central venous catheters. J Infus Nurs. 2007 May-Jun;30(3):161-7. 
- Hoit BD. Pericardial disease and pericardial tamponade. Crit Care Med. 2007 Aug;35(8 Suppl):S355-64. 
- Roy CL, Minor MA, Brookhart MA, Choudhry NK. Does this patient with a pericardial effusion have cardiac tamponade? JAMA. 2007 Apr 25;297(16):1810-8. Review.