Cardiac Tamponade

(Tamponade; Pericardial Tamponade)


Cardiac tamponade occurs when fluid builds up between the heart muscle and the surrounding tissue called the pericardium. This fluid compresses the heart. Because of this, enough blood cannot be pumped in and out of the heart.
This condition can be life-threatening. Cardiac tamponade can be treated, but it can return after treatment.
Cardiac Tamponade
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Cardiac tamponade can be caused by a variety of factors and conditions, including:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of cardiac tamponade include:


Symptoms vary from mild to severe. They typically include one or more of the following:


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you have a significant change in blood pressure between breaths, this is one way your doctor will diagnose this condition.


Cardiac tamponade is a serious condition. It can be life-threatening and requires immediate hospitalization and treatment.
Treatments are given to:
Treatments that are given for cardiac tamponade include:


There are no current guidelines to prevent cardiac tamponade.


American Heart Association

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute


Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


Braverman A, Sundaresan S. Cardiac tamponade and severe ventricular dysfunction. Ann Intern Med. 1994;120(5):442.

Explore pericarditis. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed January 23, 2013.

Pericardial effusion. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 15, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2013.

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