Pressure on the heart caused by fluid building up in the pericardium
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
The pericardium is a thin membrane that surrounds your heart. When blood or fluid builds up in this membrane, it can put pressure on your heart and prevent it from expanding fully. This makes it more difficult to pump enough blood throughout your body.
Cardiac tamponade requires immediate medical attention to relieve the pressure on your heart and prevent death. Cardiac tamponade symptoms vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Chest pain, which can extend to the shoulders, neck and abdomen (belly)
- Difficulty breathing
- Fainting or dizziness
- Heart palpitations, or the sensation that the heart rate is skipping, slowing down or racing
- Pale or blue skin
What can cause cardiac tamponade?
Possible causes for cardiac tamponade include:
Cardiac tamponade is often diagnosed using imaging procedures that can be done bedside before treating the condition.
The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.
An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.
Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.