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Pericardial effusion

Normal heart and heart with pericardial effusion

In a normal heart, a thin layer called the pericardium surrounds and protects the heart. There is a small amount of fluid between the pericardium and the heart. This fluid helps cushion the heart.

But sometimes too much fluid builds up in this space around the heart. This is called pericardial effusion. This extra fluid puts pressure on the heart and can cause chest pain and serious heart problems.

Current as of: December 15, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology