The pericardium is a thin sac-like structure that surrounds the heart and gives it protection. If the pericardium is damaged or diseased, fluid can accumulate between the layers. This condition (fluid around the heart) is called pericardial effusion.
Fluid around the heart makes it strenuous for the heart to pump blood. The condition can result in various negative outcomes, including death, if left untreated.
There are numerous causes of fluid accumulation around the heart. The accumulation can make it difficult to breathe and cause chest pain. There might be a medication that can assist with this. In extreme instances, fluid accumulation endangers the patient’s life and must be drained immediately.
This post explains what causes fluid around the heart. The post also identifies the fluid around the heart symptoms. Moreover, it answers how you get rid of the fluid around the heart.
So, let’s explore everything about water around the heart.
Fluid Around Heart
The pericardium, a component of the cardiovascular system, is a sac that surrounds the heart. The purpose of this sac is to protect the heart. The sac typically contains relatively little fluid, distributed in a thin layer around the heart. The fluid that surrounds the heart is called pericardial fluid. Its primary function is to act as a lubricant, simplifying the heart’s pumping and rotation.
Most individuals have a small quantity of fluid surrounding their hearts (small pericardial effusion). The fluid around the heart is produced by the sac surrounding the heart and is necessary for healthy heart function. Pericardial effusion refers to an accumulation of excess fluid surrounding the heart.
When the pericardium becomes inflamed, fluid can occasionally seep from the sac surrounding the heart. It may cause the sac to swell. Blood can also enter the sac due to an injury, surgery, or complication from a previous heart procedure. The blood that surrounds the heart is known as the “hemopericardium.”
The water around the heart is constantly being produced and removed. As a result, the level is typically maintained at a stable state. When a person develops heart failure, the high pressures within the heart frequently prevent fluid from draining properly.
Grave Consequences of the Fluid Accumulation
Even if the amount of fluid surrounding the heart increases rapidly and significantly, the sac does not expand. Instead, the fluid presses against the heart, causing it to shrink.
This shrinkage is because of the sac’s greater pressure than that within the heart. Due to this, the heart cannot receive sufficient blood; hence there is less oxygenated blood. This potentially fatal illness is also known as cardiac tamponade.
It can occur in two ways: either the amount of pericardial fluid increases rapidly and drastically, or a great deal of fluid accumulates gradually. When pericardial fluid accumulates over time, the heart’s sac gradually enlarges to accommodate the fluid. When fluid accumulates rapidly, the sac cannot expand to accommodate the fluid. Due to the high intra-sac pressure, blood effusions are frequently medical emergencies as the sac is easily permeable by blood.
What Causes Fluid Around the Heart?
A variety of medical conditions can cause pericardial effusion. It frequently occurs alongside or as a direct result of pericardial inflammation (pericarditis).
The following are some of the causes of fluid accumulation around the heart.
It is an inflammation of the pericardium. After contracting a respiratory infection, it is extremely typical to develop. Various types of pericarditis include bacterial pericarditis, idiopathic pericarditis, and viral pericarditis.
2. Congestive Heart Failure
The inability of the heart to adequately pump blood results in congestive heart failure. It increases the likelihood of fluid accumulation around the heart.
3. Cardiac Arrest
Inflammation of the pericardium can result from a heart attack. As a result of the inflammation, fluid may accumulate around the heart.
4. Trauma and Injury
Due to a pericardial puncture or damage to the heart muscle caused by an injury or other traumatic event, fluid can build around the heart.
5. Cancer and its Treatment
Some forms of cancer can result in pericardial effusion. Multiple forms of cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, and lymphoma, can result in fluid collection around the heart.
The chemotherapy medications may also cause pericardial effusion in certain patients.
6. Renal Dysfunction
Uremia and renal failure are two disorders that might decrease the heart’s pumping function. The condition can result in pericardial effusion in some patients.
Fluid Around Heart Symptoms
The water around the heart does not cause any symptoms by itself. Instead, symptoms manifest when elevated pressure in the heart sac makes regular cardiac function difficult. In extreme circumstances, this may lead the individual to experience shock. In most cases, you will not have symptoms unless the fluid accumulation is rapid or severe.
Fluid around heart symptoms are:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Dyspnea, i.e., shortness of breath
- Discomfort while lying down
- A sensation of fullness in the chest
It is important not to ignore the fluid around the heart symptoms as they indicate life-threatening issues that require urgent treatment.
If the doctor suspects you have water around the heart, the following diagnostic tests will be recommended to confirm the diagnosis:
- Chest X-ray
Get Rid of Fluid Around the Heart
Pericardial effusions are typically successfully treatable. The treatment depends on its cause, the individual’s age, and overall health.
If your symptoms of water around the heart are not severe and you are in excellent condition, you may be prescribed antibiotics to treat an infection, painkillers to ease pain, or both. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may be prescribed if it originates from inflammation.
If fluid accumulates around your heart, the pericardium can exert unhealthy strain on your heart. If your heart fails, the doctor may recommend a catheter to drain fluid from the heart or open-heart surgery to repair the pericardium and heart. The process is known as pericardiocentesis.
It is considered the best method of getting rid of fluid around the heart. During this operation, a needle is inserted through the patient’s chest wall and into the tissue surrounding the heart. Through the catheter, the excess fluid is drained.
There are numerous causes for fluid accumulation around the heart. All of them pose a threat to your health. You may be able to treat your condition using over-the-counter or doctor-prescribed medication. The treatment depends on your age, the symptoms you are experiencing, and your overall health.
In some circumstances, extreme measures, such as fluid drainage or open-heart surgery, may be required. The sooner you determine what is wrong, the greater your chances of successfully treating it. If you suspect fluid around the heart, you should consult a physician.
You can reach out to us at HG Analytics. We assist you in analyzing and predicting potential health threats, associated symptoms, and remedies. We collaborate with seasoned healthcare practitioners with a history of providing excellent treatment to patients and emphasizing preventative medicine.
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