What are the symptoms of pericardial effusion?
Many patients with pericardial effusion have no symptoms. The condition is often discovered on a chest x-ray or echocardiogram that was performed for another reason. Initially, the pericardium may stretch to accommodate excess fluid build-up. Therefore, signs and symptoms may not occur until a large amount of fluid has collected over time. If symptoms do occur, they may result from compression of surrounding structures, such as the lung, stomach or phrenic nerve (a nerve that connects to the diaphragm). Symptoms also may occur due to diastolic heart failure (heart failure that occurs because the heart is unable to relax normally between each contraction due to the added compression). Symptoms of pericardial effusion include: • Chest pressure or pain • Shortness of breath • Nausea • Abdominal fullness • Difficulty in swallowing Symptoms that pericardial effusion is causing cardiac tamponade include: • Blue tinge to the lips and skin • Shock • Change in mental status Cardiac tamponade is