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Cardiac tamponade

  • Alternative Names

    Tamponade; Pericardial tamponade


    Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition that requires hospitalization.

    The fluid around the heart must be drained. Pericardiocentesis is a procedure that uses a needle to remove fluid from the pericardial sac, the tissue that surrounds the heart.

    A procedure to cut and remove part of the pericardium (surgical pericardiectomy or pericardial window) may also be done.

    Fluids are given to maintain normal blood pressure until pericardiocentesis can be performed. Medications that increase blood pressure may also help sustain the patient's life until the fluid is drained.

    The patient may be given oxygen. This reduces the workload on the heart by decreasing tissue demands for blood flow.

    The cause of the tamponade must be identified and treated.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Tamponade is life-threatening if untreated. The outcome is often good if the condition is treated promptly, but tamponade may come back.

    • Heart failure
    • Pulmonary edema
    • Death

    Calling your health care provider

    Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if symptoms develop. Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition requiring immediate attention.