What is a Pericardial Effusion?

What is a Pericardial Effusion?

A pericardial effusion is a serious heart problem that could result in death. For those who might not know, pericardial effusion is the term used to describe the collection of fluid around the heart. This fluid builds between the outside of the heart and the muscle that protects it, called the pericardium. When this fluid builds, it compresses the heart, inhibiting the heart’s function. Unfortunately, heart problems continue to remain as one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Some of the statistics that have been released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:

  • In 2005, nine out of ten people recognized that chest pain could be a symptom of heart disease.
  • Only a quarter of people surveyed were able to name another symptom of a cardiac emergency.
  • A majority of people surveyed were not aware that they should call 911 in the event of a cardiac emergency.
  • Nearly half of all deaths related to heart disease and cardiac emergencies take place outside of a hospital.

These numbers show that many people do not understand the signs and symptoms of a cardiac emergency, such as a pericardial effusion.

Symptoms and Treatment of a Pericardial Effusion

As pericardial effusion continues to enlarge, the heart will struggle to pump blood to the rest of the body. If this continues, the body’s vital organs (including the heart) will not have the oxygen and nutrients that they need to survive. This can result in death. Some of the symptoms of pericardial effusion include:

  • Severe chest pain and discomfort
  • Pain that radiates from the chest to the back, neck, jaw, arms, or stomach
  • Difficulty catching one’s breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Profuse sweating and nervousness

An effusion around the heart can often be diagnosed on ultrasound. When it is identified, the treatment is often emergent surgical drainage. A trained surgeon will insert a needle into the muscular layer around the heart, draining the fluid and relieving the symptoms.

Watch YouTube Video: Pericardial Effusion – In the following video. Dr. Dawn Jaroszewski with the Mayo Clinic in Arizona describes pericardial effusion and explains how to treat it.

Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney

If a loved one is taken to the hospital with a cardiac emergency following a serious accident, families often have questions. These questions could be related to the mechanism of the auto accident, how the collision resulted in such a serious condition, and what they should do next. For help under these circumstances, it is essential for families to know that a personal injury attorney in Sacramento can provide numerous resources. These include professional accident reconstruction, review of records, and the pursuit of damages. Families need to know that they are not alone following a major accident. You and your family could be owed a financial reward.

Sacramento Personal Injury Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento. A pericardial effusion could compress the heart, resulting in a surgical emergency. If your loved one has suffered from heart issues after an accident, contact me today at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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Image Attribution: The image placed the top was found in Pixabay. It is shown here with permission.

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