Cardiac tamponade





Cardiac tamponade (pericardial tamponade) is a medical emergency wherein there is a pressure buildup on the heart that is caused by an accumulation of fluid, usually blood or pus, in the space between the myocardium (heart muscle) and the pericardium (outer covering of the heart). This pressure prevents the heart from functioning properly, thus, the rest of the body does not receive a sufficient blood supply.

Patients who are afflicted with cardiac tamponade may suffer from impaired physiologic functioning, depending on the causes. An individual with tamponade may have compromised mobility and balance, respiration, and even elimination processes.

Generally, cardiac tamponade has an occurrence (due to disease) of about 2 cases in 10,000 people. This is based on the statistics from the United States of America. The figures make this case a rare one. Although rare, this case is considered as a medical emergency that poses very serious complications.


Generally, cardiac tamponade is commonly caused by malignant diseases. A study conducted by Merce, et al, reported that of the various etiologies for tamponade, the incidence rates are as follows:

  • 30-60% of the cases are caused by malignant diseases (end-stage lung cancer);
  • 10-15% of the cases are caused by uremia;
  • 5-15% of the cases are caused by idiopathic pericarditis;
  • 5-10% of the cases are caused by infectious diseases;
  • 5-10% of the cases are caused by anticoagulation therapies;
  • 2-6% of the cases are caused by connective tissue diseases; and
  • 1-2% of the cases are caused by postpericardiotomy syndrome.

However, tamponade can also arise from any case of pericarditis, which can also result from HIV infections, other major systemic infections (viral, fungal, and bacterial-TB), intake of drugs such as isoniazid, hydrazaline and the likes, post-coronary interventions, acupuncture, trauma to the chest, cardiovascular surgeries, post-myocardial infarctions, connective tissue diseases, chest radiation therapy, anticoagulation therapies, idiopathic pericarditis, hypothyroidism, or aortic dissections.

It can also be caused by heart tumors, leukemia, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Cardiac tamponade that is secondary to HIV infection or trauma occurs mostly in young adults; while tamponade that results from chronic kidney injury and/or malignancy is more common in elderly patients.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms for cardiac tamponade include the following:

  • Anxiety and/or restlessness;
  • Pain that is usually felt in the areas of the shoulder, neck, chest, or back;
  • Chest pain that is exacerbated by coughing or deep breathing;
  • Shortness of breath or labored breathing (especially deep breaths);
  • Discomfort that is sometimes relieved by leaning forward or sitting upright;
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, or fainting;
  • Palpitations and rapid breathing;
  • Weak, if not absent, pulse; and
  • Pale, grey, or bluish skin.

The indication of the signs and symptoms of cardiac tamponade, however, may be dependent on the cause of the condition.


Intensive medical attention is a necessity for patients suffering from cardiac tamponade. The treatment for this condition generally consists of two parts: reduction and/or elimination of the pressure buildup on the heart, and eventually treating the medical condition that is the cause of the tamponade itself. It is of primary concern, nonetheless, that the patient’s condition be stabilized.

It is essential that the fluid exerting the pressure on the heart be drained as quickly as possible. This is made possible through a procedure called pericardiocentesis, where a needle is used to remove fluid from the pericardial sac. Sometimes, part of the pericardium needs to be removed through surgical pericardiectomy.

In order to maintain a normal blood pressure on the client, volume expanders (such as IV fluids, plasma or blood) is administered to prevent a drop in the blood pressure and intravascular volume. Oxygen is also administered to aid in reducing the workload on the heart.

Disability Tax Credits for Cardiac Tamponade

People who have undergone successful treatment for cardiac tamponade may be entitled to file a claim for disability tax exemptions from the Canadian Revenue Agency. If you think that you deserve this privilege, you may seek the assistance of our friendly agents at HandyTax. With our assistance, you may be on your way to claiming your tax refunds. So what are you waiting for? Call our hotline now!