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Pericardial Effusion

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Pericardial Effusion is a medical term that means fluid around your heart. The condition can be due to several different causes, including infection or heart failure. But when it occurs with some types of mesothelioma or other cancers, it can compress your heart so much your heart can’t beat normally.

Pericardial effusion symptoms

Some patients may have no pericardial effusion symptoms. Because the lining around your heart (the pericardium) can expand with a certain amount of fluid, you may only discover you're having the problem when you get an x-ray or have an echocardiogram for some other reason. Once a great deal of fluid collects, you will begin to have symptoms of Pericardial Effusion.

Symptoms develop because the fluid is pressing on other organs, such as your lungs or your stomach. If the fluid is excessive, it may also cause heart failure.

Pericardial effusion symptoms can include:

  • Pressure or pain in your chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling nauseated
  • Feeling bloated or full in the abdomen
  • Problems swallowing

If pericardial effusion symptoms progress, you may have a life-threatening condition called cardiac tamponade that requires immediate draining of the fluid:

  • Lips and skin look blue
  • You go into shock
  • Your mental ability is impaired

Treatment for pericardial effusion

Some cases of pericardial effusion are easily treatable. Depending on the cause and seriousness of Pericardial Effusion symptoms, doctors might drain the extra fluid and determine its makeup (it may be full of protein or mainly water). This gives them more information about the right treatment for pericardial effusion.

Treatment for pericardial effusion in the case of pleural mesothelioma or other cancer will be more complex and could include chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy and/or other approaches.