Pericardial Effusion: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment | Fluid Around the Heart
Pericardial Effusion – the fluid around the heart, is a clinical problem that is caused when an unusual accumulation of that fluid takes place in the pericardial cavity. A condition when there occurs some inflammation in the sac, then those inflammations of the sac are termed as pericarditis. This condition of pericarditis gives rise to an effusion. The quantity of fluid production increases with an increase of this inflammation. One of the main cause of this inflammation to occur is found to be the presence of viral infections in the body.
Every heart has a sac around it which forms a very important part of the cardio system. This sac is known as the pericardium. The main function of this sac is to protect and shield our heart from other body structures which normally surrounds the heart. Further, this sac has a very small amount of fluid present in them that is evenly spread across the entire heart. In case the fluid present within the sac accumulates abnormally or it exceeds the normal levels, then that situation generally leads to this problem of pericardial effusion.
The fluid around the heart is spread across as a thin layer, evenly throughout the heart. This fluid that surrounds the heart is known as a pericardial fluid. Normally, a very small amount of this accumulated fluid is present inside the sac. Basically, this fluid acts and serves as a lubricating agent or as a lubricant for the proper functioning of the heart. It allows the heart to pump and function properly. It also allows it to turn, stretch and perform with minimal friction.
Most of the times, pericardial effusions are not so dangerous, but at times it may make the heart perform low and work poorly. The sac around your heart, called as pericardium, is a tough covering, although a thin lined layer. Whenever the heart beats, it tends to slide along within it smoothly and easily in normal conditions. A small amount of clear pericardial fluid is already present in between the two layers of the sac which helps in the movement of the heart inside the sac layers. Generally, 15 to 50 ml of the fluid amount is considered to be a normal level for the pericardial fluid. However, a 100m ml of fluid is or 2-3 tablespoons of fluid is normally considered as a small amount of fluid. And a very high accumulation of fluid refers to normally more than 2 litres present inside the same sac, thus causing an inflammation.
The pericardial cavity has a very limited space for storing any fluid or materials inside it. And this is one the major reasons why the higher amount of fluid accumulation in the cavity starts emitting a pressure on the heart and thus affecting the overall heart functions to perform negatively.
An unbalanced equilibrium of the production and absorption of the pericardial fluid which gives a way for entering of the fluid into the pericardial cavity leads to the condition of pericardial effusion. The pericardial fluid is pale yellow in colour. This fluid helps is responsible for balancing the equilibrium of the frictions between the heart functions and movements. Now, if you will ask if the fluid around the heart is dangerous or not, then certainly the answer would be that it may be yes and it may also be no. This certainly depends on the level and type of the medical issue and concerns associated with this problem.
It is recommended that you immediately refer to your doctor as soon as you feel that your chest pain is lasting for some duration, or more than minutes. Similarly, seek a doctor help if you face any problem in the breathing like if f you feel difficulty in breathing or find it painful to breathe. Also, if you anytime tend to faint due to any unexplained reasons then that is also another call when you may plan an emergency and seek for medical help immediately because it may be due to pericardial effusion.
Pericardial Effusion Treatment | Fluid Around Heart Diagnosis:
- Treatment of pericardial effusion depends on the associated cause and severity of the problem.
- Ultrasound scans are done to assess the pericardial effusion. That ultrasound of the heart is medically known as the echocardiogram. An echocardiogram helps in quantifying the amount of fluid that is present around the heart.
- CT scans also help in determining the fluid levels. Pericardial effusion can mostly be detected through a CT scan, and it can determine the quantity of excess fluid surrounding the heart.
- An echocardiogram is more effective most of the time as compared to CT scans because echocardiogram tells us how the effusion is actually upsetting and affecting the heart and its regular functions.
- Pericardial effusion may get even worse if you try to breathe deeply or if you take deep breaths.
- However, you will feel much better if you lean your body forward.
- In some cases, few pericardial effusions remain small in size and don’t enlarge. In this case, treatment may not be required.
- Smaller pericardial effusion which doesn’t generally tend to show any form of symptom or signs of the effusion is normally due to some known reasons and cause, and therefore require no special treatment as such.
- However, if the infections are serious or when the inflammations are high, or when the fluid accumulations are large, or any type of impairments exist in the heart, then it needs to be treated wisely and effectively.
- Taking prescribed medications may also help to recover the cause. It all depends on case to case basis and depends on the cause of the root problem. However, it is one option as well. Medications are also prescribed in most of the cases.
- All extra fluids need to be drained by the surgeon, a specialist, or your doctor.
- The drainage tube in some cases may have to be left intact for few days.
- Draining of the fluid may most probably be done by the help of a needle that will be inserted from the walls of your chest and inserted deep into your pericardial space.
- In few of the cases, drainage of fluids may also require surgical methods. The process of surgical drainage is done by making a window by cutting through the pericardium.
The excess fluid that gets drained out is generally not a big in quantity, and many times patients may get surprised to see that such a minute quantity of that fluid had caused such a big and life-threatening problem to the person. However, it is actually true that balancing and maintaining the desired levels of the fluid quantity limit is very important.
The presence of pericardial effusion in your heart tends to normally put some amount of pressure in your heart, thereby affecting the functioning of the heart. Left untreated, the condition of pericardial effusion may even lead to severe problems which may be very dangerous and sorrowful. It may lead to a complete failure of your or may even take away the life and lead to death. It may be due to a result of the poor or improper circulation of blood and an insufficient supply of the required oxygen into your body. It may at times be life-threatening and therefore there is a need to take proper safety and precautions by seeking medical help and be attentive whenever you face any medical urgency.
It is a fact that many of the effusions are not so harmful, but still, at times it may tend to harm the functioning of your heart. Obviously, there are reasons why inflammations and effusion occur or why fluid gets accumulated in your cardiac parts. Problems may be raised if the accumulation of fluid exceeds the desired limit, which also affects the overall blood supply of the body.
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