The Basics of Cardiac Tamponade

Cardiac Tamponade occurs when there is compression of the heart due to the entry of fluid in the pericardial sac. The pericardial sac is a protective covering that surrounds the heart and allows the heart to expand naturally so that it can pump blood without any problem.  According to Philips AED packages providers, when fluid, pus or blood begin to collect and enters the sac, the heart is compressed and prevents it from being able to pump blood. Normally, the sac can hold only about 100 ml of fluid before the heart gives out.


One possible cause of cardiac Tamponade is a hormonal condition called hypothyroidism where gland is not able to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4 necessary for metabolism and physiologic functioning.  However, this is not the most common cause. According to Philips FR3 supplies specialists, the most common cause is penetrating trauma to the heart. The condition may affect the heart directly or the blood vessels that supply it. What happens is that the blood floods the pericardial sac causing heart compression. Blunt traumatic injury to the chest is another cause therefore all trauma patients that appear to have some injury to the trunk needs to be assessed for this condition.


For doctors and emergency personnel, the diagnosis of cardiac Tamponade is a difficult one because there are many other conditions that present the same symptoms like tension pneumothorax which resembles some of the signs and symptoms seen in cardiac Tamponade.  Low blood pressure that is not related to blood loss is normally the first sign.  The patient also exhibits jugular venous distention and the heart sounds appear muffled upon auscultation.  This collection of symptoms is known as Beck’s triad.


In the field there is not a lot paramedics can do to treat the problem. Usually, the treatment protocol calls for improving the low blood pressure and other symptoms of shock the patient is presenting and then transporting the patient as soon as possible to the nearest tertiary care institution.  The definitive treatment is to perform a procedure called pericardiocentesis.  The procedure calls for inserting a needle in the chest in order to remove the fluid that is compressing the heart under the guidance of ultrasound.