WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Pericardial effusion (per-i-KAHR-dee-al e-FU-zhun) is a condition where there is too much fluid in the pericardium. The pericardium is a two-layer sac that surrounds the heart. It holds the heart in the center of the chest and protects it from infections. The sac contains a small amount of clear fluid between its layers that allows the heart to move smoothly when it beats. With pericardial effusion, the amount of the fluid increases in the sac and may become cloudy, bloody, or thick. Pericarditis (swelling of the sac), caused by damage to the sac from infection, injuries, or procedures, may lead to pericardial effusion. You may feel lightheaded and have chest pain, cough, swelling of your legs, trouble breathing, and trouble eating or swallowing food. If the fluid increases very fast or in a large amount, your heart may not be able to beat properly and you could get organ damage or even die.
- You may need an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, blood tests, and imaging tests to diagnose your condition. A sample of the fluid in the sac may be taken and sent to the lab for tests. If your heart is being affected by the fluid, you may need to have some of the fluid removed right away by drawing it off with a needle and syringe. Treatment is used to decrease symptoms and prevent further damage to the heart. Other medical conditions causing your condition or making it worse may have to be treated. Other procedures may be done to treat fluid that continues to build up in the sac. Diagnosing and treating pericardial effusion as soon as possible may help you get back to your usual activities.
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine may decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your primary healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have a fever.
- You cannot make it to your next appointment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicines, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You feel light headed or lose consciousness.
- You have swelling at your legs or feet.
- You have trouble breathing.
- Your chest pain is still as bad as before or becomes worse.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.