Pericardial Effusion is considered the accumulation and collection of excess fluid around the heart which restricts it from performing it’s function in an effective manner. The heart is surrounded by a double-layered sac-like structure which is called the pericardium. The space between the layers normally contains a very small amount of fluid which helps in filling up the space left between them.
Pericardial effusion is normally related to the inflammation of the pericardium that might occur due to any disease or injury but this problem might also occur without inflammation. Sometimes pericardial effusion can also be caused due to the accumulation of blood after a surgical procedure or injury done in the past. As the volume of this fluid is present in excess around the pericardium, the problem of pericardial effusion occurs as it puts pressure on the heart and further leads to poor functioning of the heart. If this problem is left untreated and a doctor is not visited, the problem might lead to heart failure and might prove to be fatal in some cases.
Causes of the problem of pericardial effusion
Inflammation of the pericardium (Pericarditis) is in response to a disease, injury or an inflammatory disorder that affects the pericardium. Pericardial effusion is a sign of this inflammatory response. Pericardial effusion may also occur when the flow of pericardial fluids is blocked or when blood gets accumulated within the pericardium. It's not clear how some diseases contribute to pericardial effusion, and sometimes, the cause of this problem cannot be identified by the doctors. However, some of the specific causes of this problem are :
- Autoimmune disorders which include lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Viral, fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections
- Inflammation of pericardium following heart surgery or heart attacks which is also known as Dressler’s syndrome
- Patient who are suffering from HIV or AIDS
- Spreading of cancer particularly, breast cancer, lung cancer, leukemia and also melanoma
- Treatment of chemotherapy for cancer
Talking about the symptoms of this problem
The below mentioned are the symptoms of pericardial effusion which one should know in order to get treated on time.
- Often fainting or dizziness.
- Shortness of breath or getting difficulty in breathing which is normally known as dyspnea.
- Getting problem in breathing when one is lying which is also known as orthopnea.
- Experiencing of rapid heart rate.
- Getting pain in the chest and normally behind the breast bone or also on the left side of the chest which might get worse as the patient breathes. This problem gets better when the patient sits down and relaxes for some time.
- Painful breathing especially when the patient is lying down or taking deep breathes.
- A feeling of anxiety all the time.
There are also cases in which the patient experiences significant pericardial effusion symptoms and with no signs or symptoms, particularly if the fluid has increased slowly. But it is very important to know about the disease in a proper manner.
Diagnosis of problem of Pericardial Effusion
One of the best ways for the identification of the problem of Pericardial Effusion is getting regular medical checkups and tests done. In addition, other kinds of tests with the help of which one can diagnose this problem include echocardiogram and x rays of the chest. There are also some other tests through which this problem can be diagnosed but these tests are recommended and prescribed by the doctors and only with the prescription, these tests will be performed.