Cardiac Tamponade: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Cardiac tamponade is an intense medical condition in which blood or fluids fill the space between the sac that encases the heart and the heart muscles. This places extreme pressure on your heart. The pressure prevents the heart ventricles from expanding fully and prevents your heart from functioning properly, so the heart can’t pump enough blood in and out of the ventricle. It is the compression of the heart due to the fluid accumulation within the pericardium.

What happens during Cardiac Tamponade?

The heart is encompassed within a sac known as the pericardium. This sac has two layers and clutches your heart in place. It also has pericardial fluid that lubricates your heart and cushions it from outside force and stress.

The chambers of your heart have to expand to fill up the area with blood. Cardiac tamponade happens when the pericardium fills with fluid. This reduces the surface area, and the expansion of the heart becomes harder.

What is the difference between pericardial effusion and cardiac tamponade?

Pericardial effusion is the term we use for the fluid accumulation in the pericardium. Cardiac tamponade is the term we use when pressure from this accumulation restricts your heart from beating properly. The effusion may be of blood, discharge, and other blood component products.

Why does fluid fill the heart?

Many reasons can cause cardiac tamponade. For instance, blunt trauma such as a fall, car crash, or penetrating trauma like a stab wound by a knife can lead to cardiac tamponade.

It can also be caused by some other injuries, such as aortic dissection. This happens when a tear is formed in the walls of the aorta, which is the crucial artery of the human circulatory system. This can lead to a rupture of the aorta as this fluid starts to accumulate in the layers of the walls of the aorta and fills the pericardium with blood.

Diseases :

Cardiac Tamponade is also linked directly or indirectly with the following diseases and conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Attack
  • Tuberculosis
  • Heart Cancer
  • Failure of the heart and kidneys
  • Hypothyroidism

Cardiac tamponade can also happen after some medical procedures, such as,

  • Surgery on the heart or near the pericardium
  • Radiation therapy near the heart or pericardium
  • Placement of devices like a pacemaker

Causes :

Some of the causes of cardiac tamponade are listed below:

  • Cancer that has spread to the pericardial sac, such as breast or lung cancer,
  • Trauma from methods done to the heart
  • Pericardial sac infections, such as viral, bacterial, or bacterial illness
  • Stab or gunshot wounds.
  • Blunt trauma to the chest from a car accident or industrial accident
  • High level of radiation to the chest
  • A ruptured aortic aneurysm
  • Hyperthyroidism increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Punctures are made for the ring placement of the central line, a type of catheter that administers fluids or medications.
  • Heart Attack
  • Kidney failure

Occasionally, cardiac tamponade causes low blood pressure, which can lead to symptoms of shock. These include cool arms, legs, arms, and fingers; pale skin; and less urination than normal.

How is my body affected by the compression of the heart?

Cardiac tamponade is harmful and dangerous as it restricts and limits the cardiac output, which is the amount of blood your heart can pump. This decreases the amount of blood and oxygen in your body, which can eventually stop your heart, leading to a fatal condition called Cardiac Arrest.

Whom does cardiac tamponade affect the most?

Cardiac tamponade can happen to people of all ages. Cardiac tamponade caused by other diseases occurs in about two out of every 10,000 people in a day.

Symptoms :

Symptoms of cardiac tamponade are listed below:

  • Losing consciousness and dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Pain radiating from your chest to your neck, shoulder, or back
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Discomfort and irritation
  • Fast pulse
  • Heart palpitations( when you become aware of your heartbeat)
  • Change in skin color, especially going pale or grey
  • Enlargement of the veins of the neck
  • Fever, if you have an infection
  • Swelling in your arms and legs
  • Upset stomach

Are there any complications from cardiac tamponade?

Cardiac tamponade has no such complications if it is dealt with quickly. It can lead to shock if it isn’t treated, and this shock can pave the path for many serious problems. For example, if the blood supply is restricted because of cardiac tamponade, the reduced blood supply can lead to kidney failure. Untreated, it can also cause problems for other organs and can lead to death.

Can I prevent cardiac tamponade?

Cardiac tamponade is incredibly hard to prevent, as it is either caused by injuries or diseases. It is possible to prevent it if you detect and treat pericardial effusion early, especially after an injury or condition you know you have.

What can I do to prevent cardiac tamponade?

Because cardiac tamponade is caused by other problems and diseases, you can reduce your risk of developing some of the health issues that can lead to cardiac tamponade. For example,

  • Consuming a heart-healthy balanced diet
  • Performing enough exercises
  • Avoiding the consumption of alcohol
  • Seeing a doctor on a regular basis to treat any health issues

Many cases of cardiac tamponade can’t be prevented, though.

How long does it take to recover?

Your healthcare provider can advise you on what you should and should not do while suffering from cardiac tamponade or undergoing any procedure to treat it. If you had surgery, it’s more likely that your doctor would restrict you from physical activity.

Your recovery time may be less if you manage the cardiac tamponade accordingly if it’s the outcome of other diseases. Your healthcare provider can counsel you about what you can or should do once you go home.

When am I supposed to go to the emergency room?

Cardiac tamponade is a medical emergency and needs urgent medical help. You should pursue urgent medical care if you have any injuries to your chest or near your heart. You should seek medical attention if you are recovering from cardiac tamponade and any of the symptoms return.

long-term outlook

The long-term outlook depends on how soon the diagnosis is made and the primary cause of the disease. Your future is good if the cardiac tamponade is quickly diagnosed and treated.

Your long-term outlook greatly depends on how soon you get the treatment. If you think you have this condition, seek medical treatment immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cardiac Tamponade?

It is a condition in which the area around your heart gets filled with fluid and puts pressure on the heart. This can decrease blood circulation around the body, which can lead to many problems and difficulties.

What are some major causes of cardiac tamponade?

It is caused by infection of the pericardial sac during a viral infection or bacterial illness. It can be caused by the inflammation of the pericardial sac from a heart attack.

What are some signs and symptoms of cardiac tamponade?

It can lead to sharp pain in the chest, dizziness, fast pulse, heart palpitations, and changes in skin color.


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