Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition that requires hospitalization. The purpose of treatment is to:
- Save the patient’s life
- Improve heart function
- Relieve symptoms
- Treat the tamponade
Treatment usually involves a procedure to drain the fluid around the heart (pericardiocentesis) or to cut and remove part of the pericardium (surgical pericardiectomy or pericardial window).
Fluids are given to maintain normal blood pressure until pericardiocentesis can be performed. Medications that increase blood pressure may also help sustain the patient’s life until the fluid is drained.
The patient may be given oxygen. This reduces the workload on the heart by decreasing tissue demands for blood flow.
The cause of the tamponade must be identified and treated. Treatment of the cause may include medications such as antibiotics, and surgery to repair the injury.
Tamponade is life-threatening if untreated. The outcome is often good if the condition is treated promptly, but tamponade may recur.
- Heart failure
- Pulmonary edema
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if symptoms develop. Cardiac tamponade is an emergency condition requiring immediate attention.
Review Date : 5/15/2008
Reviewed By : Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.