Cardiac Tamponade


Understanding Cardiac Tamponade

Cardiac Tamponade or pericardial effusion is a condition that is caused by fluid accumulation in the sac around the heart. This sac, the pericardium, has two layers and usually has only a thin fluid layer. Fluid accumulation can happen if the pericardium sustains an injury or is diseased, causing inflammation. Fluid build-up can also happen if the chest region sustains trauma. Left untreated, this condition can cause health failure or death.

Why is Cardiac Tamponade a life-threatening condition?  This is because the fluid accumulation around the heart interferes with its ability to perform properly. The excess fluid compresses and constricts heart function.  It can also occur if the heart is wounded or ruptured. Without timely medical treatment, it can lead to very low blood pressure, shock and death.

This condition occurs in about 2 out of 10,000 people worldwide. More often than not, the incidence of acute Cardiac Tamponade is 2% due to penetration-related trauma.

Who are at risk?

People with health conditions listed below are likelier than the general public to experience CT:

  • HIV
  • Final stages of kidney failure
  • People with a history of heart problems
  • Lupus and specific auto-immune conditions
  • Tuberculosis
  • Malignant and cancerous tumors
  • Chest injuries due to a stabbing or other accidents

What are the causes of Cardiac Tamponade?

Some of the most common reasons for this condition are:

Shock: This can happen due to reasons such as a low volume of blood in the body, the inability of the heart to pump properly or excessive dilation of the blood vessels. In the case of the low volume of blood, people feel sleepy or confused and they can become cyanotic. If the blood vessels are too dilated, a person’s skin can be warm to the touch and appear flushed. A person in shock must be covered to stay warm and keep legs in an elevated position. Medications, fluids, and oxygen can be administered to bring blood pressure back to normal.

Aortic aneurysm: Aortic problems take a long time to develop. Aneurysms are bulges in the walls of the aorta – walls which have become weak. Aneurysms can develop in arteries, in the trunk, legs, arms, and even the femoral arteries.

Lung cancer: Lung cancer is another contributing reason for cardiac tamponade. Weakened lungs and low oxygen levels in the blood contribute to stress on the heart. Symptoms appear gradually and manifest as dyspnea, cough, and palpitations.

Acute pericarditis: Pericarditis could be caused by infections and other conditions. This occurs quite suddenly and can be extremely painful. Symptoms include chest pain which is very sharp and could feel like the onset of a heart attack. This can also be accompanied by fever. If pericarditis occurs due to injury, heart surgery or cancer, it could cause fluid and blood components to accumulate. Patients get hospitalized so that their condition can be monitored. Treatment involves medications to reduce inflammation and pain.

Heart attack: This occurs when there is a blockage in the coronary artery, which causes erratic angina, pressure in the chest, shortness of breath and weakness. Treatment usually varies based on the type of syndrome and symptoms. Doctors attempt maintaining or increase blood flow to the areas in the heart that have been affected.

Heart surgery: Cardiac Tamponade is one of the severe complications after heart surgery. It is usually due to post-operative bleeding. It is also life-threatening and demands quick diagnosis and therapy to prevent death.

Blunt injuries: These injuries are a result of blows to the chest that could rupture heart walls, bruise heart muscles or damage a valve. Even though the skin is undamaged, blunt injuries can cause death.  Falling from heights or car crashes are prime examples of blunt injuries. Bruised heart muscles disrupt the heart’s normal rhythm. A tear in the wall usually results in fatal bleeding or cardiac tamponade. Damage to the heart valve requires surgery to fix the problem. Symptoms include a racing heart, pounding, shortness of breath or dangerously low blood pressure.

Other causes of Cardiac Tamponade are a stab and gunshot woods, accidental rupturing or piercing during surgery or pacemaker insertion, heart infections, punctures during placement of IVs or catheters, cancers which have spread to the pericardial sac, lupus, and high levels of radiation to the chest area or hypothyroidism. Prescription drugs used to treat high blood pressure, tuberculosis and epilepsy can also contribute to this condition.

Cardiac Tamponade symptoms

The symptoms related to this condition vary in acuteness based on the underlying cause. It could manifest as:

  • Anxiety
  • Uneasiness
  • Pressure in the chest
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Chest pain which radiates to the back, neck, and shoulders
  • Trouble breathing normally and deeply
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Decreased or low urine output
  • Upset tummy
  • Pain in the abdomen – upper right quadrant

In some instances, acute cardiac tamponade also results in abnormally low blood pressure. Symptoms include low body temperature, cool arms and legs, and pale skin. Since some of these symptoms occur with other ailments, it is important to see a doctor immediately.

Types of Cardiac Tamponade

  • Acute cardiac tamponade: occurs due to trauma to the heart, aortic dissection, and complications due to invasive procedures or ventricular rupture.
  • Sub-acute or chronic tamponade: occurs when fluid accumulates slowly and up to 2000 ml of fluid is in the lining around the heart. One major cause of this is neoplasia.
  • Beck’s triad: in which all three markers of acute distress are noted – hypotension, distended veins in the neck and muted heart sounds.

Diagnosis

In case of severe discomfort, it is best to consult your doctor or cardiologist. After a comprehensive general health review and symptoms, patients are required to undergo a battery of tests. Some of the tests include:

  • An echocardiogram is performed to gauge the amount of fluid around the heart and its pumping mechanism. This test uses sound waves to generate images of the heart in real time. Cardiologists can assess the space between the pericardial layers. An echocardiogram also indicates decreased heart function due to the pressure exerted by the fluid outside. This test is conducted two ways – transthoracic and transesophageal. The first is done using a sound device over the heart area on the chest. The second is done by inserting a transducer down a patient’s throat and esophagus. Since the esophagus is close to the heart, it provides very detailed images of heart function.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) checks the electrical rhythm of the heart. Cardiologists study the results and see distinct patterns that suggest Tamponade.
  • Chest X-rays are important to study heartanatomyand ascertain the presence of accumulated fluid around the heart.
  • MRI /CT scans are also used quite regularly to detect pericardial effusion.
  • Additional tests may also be necessary to diagnose symptoms of shock. These tests could include:
    • Blood tests to find infections and/or autoimmune disease
    • Aspiration and testing of the fluid around the heart to rule out cancer
    • Metabolic problems

Getting a quick diagnosis is critical, as Cardiac Tamponade is a life-threatening condition. Even though doctors order tests, usually a clinical diagnosis gives clarity. All of the above tests or a combination of these helps diagnose and treat patients. If it is treated immediately, there are no complications at all in a patient. If it is not treated, patients go into shock and have problems such as low blood flow to the kidneys. Untreated, it can lead to all organs failing and ultimately, death.

How Cardiac Tamponade is treated

Treating this condition depends on many factors like the amount of fluid accumulation, what else is causing the Tamponade and whether you could develop CT. Quick diagnosis and immediate treatment does correct the problem and enables patients to lead a normal life. There are a few treatment options for CT.

  • Medication: This is the first step/method used by physicians to treat symptoms. If a patient has symptoms and is not in immediate danger, then doctors prescribe drugs such as aspirin, steroids like prednisone, or NSAIDS like indomethacin or ibuprofen.
  • Other treatment methods are used if the anti-inflammatory medication does not work. If a patient has large fluid accumulation around the heart leading to distressing symptoms, then a doctor or cardiologist will suggest any one of the following to drain and prevent fluid accumulation from occurring.
    • Draining: For this procedure, doctors first use results from imaging tests to guide them in their work. Called pericardiocentesis, doctors use a needle and tube/catheter to drain fluid that has accumulated around the heart. Fluoroscopy – a type of X-ray technology – guides them during the process. An ECG machine helps monitor the condition of the heart, during the procedure. Just to ensure that fluid accumulation does not occur, the catheter is left in place for a few days.
    • Open-heart surgery: This important surgery is performed only in emergency cases. Surgery is also an option if bleeding occurs in the sac area. Bleeding occurs if a patient has undergone heart surgery and has complications due to surgery or other health issues. On a rare occasion, surgeons may create passages that allow fluid drainage into the abdominal cavity and thus facilitate its absorption.
    • Opening layers: Balloon pericardiotomy is rarely used as a procedure. To do this, a deflated balloon is implanted between the pericardial layers and inflated gently to stretch them.
    • Pericardium removal: This surgery is performed to remove all or some of the pericardium. It is done only in the case of recurring problems. Even though catheters are in place to drain fluid, they fail to prevent recurring infections.

How to prevent the recurrence of Cardiac Tamponade?

Generally, it is not possible to prevent acute pericarditis. Patients must consult their doctors and get help/suggestions on avoiding another painful episode and resulting complications. This is done by getting treated right away, following the doctor’s recommendations and ensuring ongoing care.

This condition does occasionally occur but goes away on its own. In some instances, it does lead to serious heart problems if immediate medical attention and treatment are not sought.  It takes quite a bit of time to recover from pericarditis. Doctors usually recommend rest and regular visits to ensure that a patient fully recovers from an episode of CT. Following the advice of your doctor can reduce the risk of recurrence.

If you feel uneasy and unwell, make an appointment and see your doctor. Heart-related problems can be fatal if they are not addressed in a timely manner.  Even though Cardiac Tamponade is a life-threatening illness, it can be cured and people can live a normal life.

Facts

  • Cardiac Tamponade is a rare condition but can affect anyone, at any time.

Facts

  • Statistics of 2018 show that five cases per 10,000 hospital admissions in the US were related to Cardiac Tamponade.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Seek immediate medical care for symptoms of cardiac tamponade
  • Narrate a list of your symptoms which may or may not be related to your breathing or heart
  • Provide key information such as stressful situations, recent changes in lifestyle and medical history
  • Share your complete medical history along with a list of medications– vitamins, supplements and dosage
  • Make a diary of symptoms especially when they get worse

 

Don'ts
  • Ignore pain or other symptoms of Cardiac Tamponade
  • Self-medicate
  • Stop treatment without medical specialist consultation
  • Overthink or panic. With medical care, this condition can be managed well
  • Share your prescription with other patients. Their symptoms and medical history may warrant a different set of medications.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Top natural diuretics: The instant benefits you can get from nature’s water pills Since diuretic drugs are known to cause side effects, it is better to choose a natural diuretic that…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Latest findings on Kombucha; a teacup full of yeast and bacteria How can a tea consisting of a live culture of bacteria & fungi be healthy? With Kombucha, you…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
How can Kegels help you overcome weak pelvic muscles & incontinence? Kegel exercises are pelvic floor strengthening exercises that can help you overcome incontinence issues that rise out of…
Coconut oil woman
Coconut Oil: How one oil dominates the kitchen and the medicine kit too Coconut oil has been a favorite in many Asian kitchens. But more than a cooking oil, coconut oil…
Benefits of exercise: Top reasons why you should be sweating it out more in the gym Are you leading a sedentary life and still not motivated enough to get up from your couch and…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Melatonin: Fascinating facts on the hormone that brings you the Zzzs Did you know, melatonin - the chemical that puts you to sleep every night is also involved in…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
TRX: Why is this total resistance workout the best choice for your body? TRX or total resistance exercise is a form of exercise where suspension belts are used to produce that…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Hemp Seeds: The actual science behind this controversial crop Inspite of being credited as a superfood, hemp seeds are still shrouded with layers of controversies. Are these…
PiYo (Pilates + Yoga): Bringing you the best of both the worlds PiYo exercise routine was formulated for people who find it tedious and grueling exercise regimens such as extensive…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
Vitamin B12: The unknown repercussions of this nutrient deficiency Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamine; involved in the development of red blood cells in the bone marrow.…
The real reason why you shouldn’t be eating ramen noodles Instant ramen noodles might be your go-to snack for your hunger pangs. But with each spoonful you are…
Lauric Acid: 8 health benefits you can derive from coconuts Appropriate use of saturated fats containing lauric acid can provide you numerous health benefits. This is the main…
Cranberry: Top reasons why you should grow this “superfruit” in your own backyard Cranberry is a favorite among foodies and health enthusiasts alike. Read more on how it can benefit your…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
Burpees: World’s most challenging fitness routine now made simple for you The majority of the fitness regimens mainly concentrate on a particular muscle group whereas Burpees is s whole…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes, environmental circumstances, etc.
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
collagen benefits skin
Collagen: Get age-defying skin and faster hair growth with this miracle protein Collagen – Wrinkle-free skin, stronger nails, and thicker locks – now you have more reasons to eat these…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Anhedonia: Does the chronic inability to feel joy affect you too? How often do you feel dragged down by an invisible force? Do you feel an inexplicable emotional numbness…
Anticholinergics: The diverse range of diseases a single drug can easily treat What started as a novel treatment for Parkinson' disease has now become an all-encompassing drug. What all can…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
Orgasms: How to perfect the art of achieving intense bursts of pleasure (every time!) Orgasms are dependent not just on the sexual activity but on your partner as well. What you must…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
iron food shellfish
Iron-Rich Foods: Eat these foods to keep fatigue and anemia away! How to ensure a muscles as strong as iron? Eat iron rich foods ! Iron is one of…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
calorie counter
Calorie Counter: Count your calories before they flab Is calorie counting good? Are calories always bad for you? How do you if you are getting enough…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
L-arginine: Your search for the ultimate fitness booster ends here L-arginine is an amino acid necessary for the body to perform various functions.  It is essential in producing…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
The Vegan Diet: The benevolent way of eating that wins hearts (and tummies) The vegan diet involves fauna-friendly outlook towards food. Could the diet that hopes to balance everything based on…
The complete fitness guide on how to perform Tabata This fitness routine is called Tabata workouts, which is named after Dr. Izumi Tabata who developed this intensive…
Burn those years of stubborn fat-deposits with a few minutes of HIIT! HIIT or high-intensity interval training seems to be the right type of fitness training that is required where…