Cardiac tamponade is a build-up of fluid in the pericardium, which is the
thin membrane around your heart. This build-up obstructs the flow of blood into your heart.
And that means that the lower chambers of your heart, called the ventricles, cannot fill.
What is going on in the body?
The pericardium normally contains a very small amount of fluid. It plays an
important role in the following ways:
It helps the upper chambers of your heart, called the atria, fill with blood while your heart is
It maintains the position of your heart within the chest.
It minimizes friction between your heart and surrounding structures.
Chest trauma, such as a crush injury,
can cause fluid to build up in the pericardium. The accumulated fluid consists of blood
or other body fluids. When this fluid builds up around your heart, it restricts the
ability of the ventricles to fill with blood. If the build-up of fluid occurs slowly over time, then
large amounts of fluid can collect. However, if fluid collects suddenly, even small amounts
may be fatal.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Cardiac tamponade can occur after any of the following events or conditions.
crush injury, such as a motor vehicle accident
massive heart attack
If the cardiac tamponade is not treated, you may die.