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Cardiac tamponade

  • Definition

    Cardiac tamponade is compression of the heart that occurs when blood or fluid builds up in the space between the myocardium (heart muscle) and the pericardium (outer covering sac of the heart).


    Alternative Names

    Tamponade; Pericardial tamponade


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    In this condition, blood or fluid collects in the pericardium. This prevents the ventricles from expanding fully. The excess pressure from the fluid prevents the heart from functioning normally.

    Cardiac tamponade can occur due to:

    • Dissecting aortic aneurysm (thoracic)
    • End-stage lung cancer
    • Heart attack (acute MI)
    • Heart surgery
    • Pericarditis caused by bacterial or viral infections
    • Wounds to the heart

    Other potential causes include:

    • Heart tumors
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Kidney failure
    • Placement of central lines
    • Radiation therapy to the chest
    • Recent invasive heart procedures
    • Recent open heart surgery
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus

    Cardiac tamponade occurs in approximately 2 out of 10,000 people.