Pericardial effusion is excess fluid in the pericardium, the sac around the heart. Symptoms can mimic those of heart failure, including difficulty catching your breath, chest pain and coughing.
What is Pericardial Effusion?
The pericardium is a two-layered sac surrounding the heart, with a small amount of fluid between the layers. When the pericardium is inflamed, effusion, the escape of fluid, can occur.
The condition also can occur without inflammation. Pericardial effusion can put pressure on the heart, impairing its ability to function properly. Without treatment, it can cause heart failure or death.
Other symptoms include painful breathing, fever, rapid heart rate and fainting. Some people do not have symptoms.
What Causes Pericardial Effusion?
The pericardium can become inflamed due to injury, disease or another disorder. Inflammation can occur after heart surgery or a heart attack, or as a result of a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection. Other diseases and disorders that can cause pericardial effusion include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis