Pericardial effusion is the accumulation of fluid around the heart. This results from an accumulation of excess fluid in the two-layered, sac-like structure surrounding the heart (Pericardium).
When this occurs quickly or when there’s plenty of fluid around the heart, the fluid may occupy too much space in the pericardium. Then this squeezes the heart and leads to the potentially fatal disease known as cardiac tamponade.
Causes of fluid around heart
The heart is encircled and shielded by the layers of the pericardium, a thin sac-like tissue. Fluid can accumulate between the layers of the pericardium when it is damaged, ill, or infected. When this occurs, the fluid surrounding the heart strains the organ’s ability to pump blood effectively, which is necessary for optimal organ function.
If this is not addressed in time, it could lead to heart failure, and in the worst-case scenario, this could result in death. Various inflammatory conditions can cause pericardium effusion, and certain cancers may play a role in some situations. Several common reasons include the following:
- Pericarditis: This is when an inflammation of the pericardium occurs. After a respiratory infection, it frequently happens. There are several different forms of pericarditis, including bacterial, viral, and idiopathic pericarditis.
- Cancer: Tumors in the heart or cancer that has spread from another location can harm your pericardium and cause pericardium effusion.
- It can also be caused by autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, or rheumatoid.
- Congestive heart failure is when your heart cannot pump blood effectively. If this happens, fluid may build up around your heart.
- hormone disorders
- Trauma to the chest: Extra fluid surrounding the heart may develop due to chest trauma.
- toxicity exposure
- failing kidneys
- cardiac arrest
Symptoms of fluid around heart
There are times when you may have extra fluid around your heart but not experience any symptoms. This is especially true if the fluid is accumulating slowly; it may take months or years before you start experiencing symptoms. Observe for the following signs of fluid around the heart to get early treatment:
- breathing challenges
- discomfort in the chest
- discomfort while lying down
- respiration difficulty
- abdominal or thigh swelling
- quick heartbeat
- chest feeling heavy
- Fainting spells
Treatments for fluid around the heart
Several variables may influence your doctor’s treatment decision for this illness. If the fluid is large and life-threatening, your doctor may choose to employ therapies such as,
Needle aspiration: during this treatment, a needle will be inserted into your chest right inside the pericardium. The extra internal fluid would then be removed.
Surgery: In some circumstances, like an emergency, surgery will be the best option for removing the extra fluid inside the pericardium.
When an effusion isn’t harmful and doesn’t require any of the therapies mentioned above, it’s possible to treat it with medication or another kind of treatment. These comprise but are not restricted to the following: antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, Diuretics, etc.
Can fluid around the heart go away by itself?
You might not need treatment if only a tiny amount of excess fluid is in your pericardium. The additional fluid might naturally go. Treatment is based on your symptoms, additional fluid amount, and origin.
Is fluid around the heart life-threatening?
Fluid accumulation around the heart can result from a variety of medical conditions. Chest pain and shortness of breath can result from this fluid accumulation. Medicine might be able to help with this. In other instances, the fluid buildup is dangerous to health and must be drained immediately.
Is it possible to live with fluid around your heart?
If the fluid buildup is minor and not life-threatening, it might not require treatment, and you could live with it for years. But the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently is hampered by the extra fluid surrounding it. If left untreated, this condition may result in fatal complications and some cases death.
Can you treat fluid around the heart by yourself?
It would help if you didn’t attempt to self-treat pericardial effusion before consulting a healthcare professional. That’s because it can’t be diagnosed without specific diagnostic procedures and imaging. Once this diagnosis has been made, you can ask your healthcare practitioner what you can do to control your symptoms and lessen how much of an impact they have on your life.
Is Pericardial effusion normal?
A tiny quantity of pericardial fluid is normal, but an immense amount exerts strain on the heart and impairs its ability to pump blood efficiently. Cardiac tamponade is a potentially fatal disease resulting from extreme fluid buildup.
Fluid around the heart, also known as Pericardium Effusion, is when there’s excessive fluid in your pericardium (the sac that holds and protects the heart). It’s ideal to see your doctor as soon as you experience any symptoms or signs so they can diagnose your problem, study it, and prescribe the right treatment. Due to the fluid’s gradual accumulation, a person may have fluid around the heart for months or even years without experiencing any symptoms. However, if the fluid accumulates rapidly, it may cause Cardiac Tamponade, other medical problems, and in some cases, death. You must see your doctor to either have the fluid aspirated or undergo open heart surgery.