Encyclopedia Home / C / Cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade

  • Alternative Names

    Tamponade; Pericardial tamponade

    • Anxiety, restlessness
    • Chest pain
      • Radiating to the neck, shoulder, back, or abdomen
      • Sharp, stabbing
      • Worsened by deep breathing or coughing
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Discomfort, sometimes relieved by sitting upright or leaning forward
    • Fainting, light-headedness
    • Pale, gray, or blue skin
    • Palpitations
    • Rapid breathing
    • Swelling of the abdomen or other areas

    Other symptoms that may occur with this disorder:

    • Dizziness
    • Drowsiness
    • Low blood pressure
    • Weak or absent pulse

    Signs and tests

    There are no specific laboratory tests that diagnose tamponade. Echocardiogram is typically used to help establish the diagnosis.


    • Blood pressure may fall (pulsus paradoxical) when the person inhales deeply
    • Breathing may be rapid
    • Heart rate may be over 100 (normal is 60 to 100 beats per minute)
    • Heart sounds are faint during examination with a stethoscope
    • Neck veins may be abnormally extended (distended) but the blood pressure may be low
    • Peripheral pulses may be weak or absent

    Other tests may include:

    • Chest CT or MRI of chest
    • Chest x-ray
    • Coronary angiography
    • ECG