Filed under: Heart & Vascular
Pericardial effusion (per-ih-KAHR-de-ul uh-FU-zhun) is the accumulation of excess fluid around the heart.
The heart is surrounded by a double-layered, sac-like structure called the pericardium. The space between the layers normally contains a very small amount of fluid.
Pericardial effusion is often related to inflammation of the pericardium that's caused by disease or injury, but pericardial effusion can also occur without inflammation. Sometimes, pericardial effusion can be caused by the accumulation of blood after a surgical procedure or injury.
When the volume of fluid exceeds the pericardium's "full" level, pericardial effusion puts pressure on the heart, causing poor heart function. If left untreated, pericardial effusion can cause heart failure or death.
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