Back to Previous Page

Cardiac Tamponade

(Tamponade; Pericardial Tamponade)


Cardiac tamponade occurs when fluid builds up between the heart muscle and the surrounding tissue called the pericardium. This fluid compresses the heart. Because of this, enough blood cannot be pumped in and out of the heart.
This condition can be life-threatening. With proper treatment, the prognosis is good. Cardiac tamponade can return after treatment, though.
Cardiac Tamponade
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Cardiac tamponade can be caused by a variety of factors and conditions, including:

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing this condition. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:


Symptoms vary from mild to severe. They typically include one or more of the following:


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If you have a significant change in blood pressure between breaths, this is one way your doctor will diagnose this condition.


This is a serious condition. It can be life-threatening and requires immediate hospitalization and treatment.
Treatments are given to:
Treatments that are given for cardiac tamponade include:
If you are diagnosed with cardiac tamponade, follow your doctor's instructions .


This condition usually cannot be prevented. However, understanding the risk factors can aid in prevention.


American Heart Association

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute


Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


Braverman A, Sundaresan S. Cardiac tamponade and severe ventricular dysfunction. Ann Intern Med . 1994;120:5:442. Available at: . Accessed January 23, 2013.

Cardiac tamponade. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 15, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2013.

What is pericarditis? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed January 23, 2013.

Revision Information