What causes fluid to build up around the heart?
There are many reasons why fluid can build up around the heart, a condition that is medically known as pericardial effusion. It is often associated with pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the pericardium, a double-layered membrane sac that surrounds the heart and protects it.
Causes of pericardial effusion can include: Inflammation of the pericardium following heart surgery or a heart attack. Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Spread of cancer (metastasis), particularly lung cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease.
- If a severe infection or heart impairment (cardiac tamponade) exists, the extra fluid must be drained immediately. Drainage is done in two ways: Pericardiocentesis: A doctor inserts a needle through the chest into the pericardial effusion. A catheter is put into the fluid, and it's suctioned out.
- As a result, less blood leaves the heart, which causes a sharp drop in blood pressure. If left untreated, cardiac tamponade can be fatal. Chronic constrictive pericarditis is a rare disease that develops over time.
- Pericarditis can also develop from a drug-induced lupus syndrome caused by medications including procainamide, hydralazine, methyldopa, isoniazid, mesalazine, and reserpine. Methysergide causes constrictive pericarditis through mediastinal fibrosis.
It may be associated with lung inflammation and effusion (fluid accumulation). Hypothyroidism or decreased thyroid function may be associated with pericardial inflammation. Lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's are the common cancer causes of pericarditis.
- Pericarditis is often mild and goes away on its own. Some cases, if not treated, can lead to chronic pericarditis and serious problems that affect your heart. It can takes weeks or months to recover from pericarditis.
- It may be associated with lung inflammation and effusion (fluid accumulation). Hypothyroidism or decreased thyroid function may be associated with pericardial inflammation. Lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's are the common cancer causes of pericarditis.
Pericardiocentesis, also called a pericardial tap, is a procedure in which a needle and catheter remove fluid from the pericardium, the sac around your heart. The fluid is tested for signs of infection, inflammation, and the presence of blood and cancer.
- Pericardial Effusion and Cardiac Tamponade. The pericardial sac normally contains up to 50 mL of fluid; it can hold 80 to 200 mL of fluid acutely, and even up to 2 L if the fluid accumulates slowly.
- Pericardial effusion ("fluid around the heart") is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the pericardial cavity. Because of the limited amount of space in the pericardial cavity, fluid accumulation leads to an increased intrapericardial pressure which can negatively affect heart function.
- There is normally a small amount of fluid around the heart (small pericardial effusion). This is produced by the sac around the heart and is an important part of normal heart functioning. Excess fluid around the heart is known as a pericardial effusion.
Updated: 26th November 2019