Our heart is enveloped by a double layered membrane called the pericardium. Normally, quite a few milliliters of fluid are present between the cardiac tissue and the pericardium. Surplus fluid buildup around the heart and the lungs is associated with a few medical conditions. Accumulation occurs when pericardial fluid flow gets impeded, and blood accumulates in the pericardium. Cancer has also been linked to a buildup of fluid in between the lungs and heart.
What Causes Fluid around the Heart
Fluid around the heart and lungs or pericardial effusion is an abnormal collection of fluid in the pericardial cavity. Given the restricted amount of space in the pericardial cavity, a build up leads to increased intra pericardial pressure, and this adversely afflicts the functioning of the heart.
There are a host of etiological factors and causes responsible for the occurrence of a buildup of fluid; the most commonly seen reasons are:
- Pericarditis or inflammation of the heart tissue
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infection, especially, coxsackie virus
- Myocardial infarction
- Candace that may have metastasized to the pericardium
- Elevated levels of urea nitrogen in the blood
- Renal failure
- After having a heart surgery
Fluid around the Heart Symptoms
Clinical features and manifestations for pericardial effusion include:
- Breathlessness and gasping
- Difficulty in carrying out day to day activities
- Breathing difficulty even on lying down
- Sharp pains in the chest
- Sensation of clutching at the heart or extreme tightness
- Pain and discomfort in the shoulders, back and abdomen
- Chronic cough
- Difficulty swallowing
- Low grade fever
- In serious conditions, the skin may develop a bluish tinge.
- Untreated and neglected cases can develop cardiogenic shock.
How to Get Rid Of Fluid Built Up
It is very vital that the condition be detected and treated immediately. It is essential that the exact cause and the underlying condition of the fluid buildup be identified; given that the complication of this could be extremely grave. Untreated and neglected fluid around heart and lungs causes a cardiac tamponade. Due to the pressure of the pericardial effusion, the chambers of the heart that pump blood fail to function optimally, consequently, it is possible that one or more heart chambers can collapse, and this could result in poor circulation of blood and an insufficient supply of oxygen to the cells of the body. It is mandatory that you seek treatment right away, in case you suffer from any of the above mentioned symptoms and manifestations. The treatment regimen depends up on the amount of fluid that has built up, the underlying cause / disease, and whether the effusion is likely to cause tamponade.
The doctor will prescribe NSAIDs, aspirin and colchicines to manage the inflammation of the pericardium. If you fail to respond to medications you will be given a corticosteroid.
If all medications fail to bring relief, and in case there is a risk of tamponade, your cardiologist will advocate an invasive procedure to drain the fluid.
- An open heart surgery
- Intra pericardial sclerosis
These are all invasive surgical procedures and are done in the event that you do not respond to anti inflammatory or corticosteroids and there is a very high risk of a cardiac tamponade.