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.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
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.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods: This may help you have more energy and heal faster. Healthy foods include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
- Drink liquids as directed: Adults should drink between 9 and 13 eight-ounce cups of liquid every day. Ask what amount is best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.
- Get plenty of exercise: Talk to your caregiver about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can decrease your blood pressure and improve your health.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. You are more likely to have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other health problems if you smoke. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you. If you smoke, ask for information about how to stop.
- Manage stress: Stress may slow healing and cause illness. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
Where can I get more information?
Contact the following for more information:
- National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
Bethesda , MD 20892-8322
Phone: 1- 800 - 422-6237
Web Address: http://www.cancer.gov
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.