Pulmonary CarePulmonary Conditions

Treating Cardiac Tamponade

Step 1 Diagnosis

Diagnosing cardiac tamponade is difficult as signs and symptoms often mimic those associated with other conditions. Low blood pressure, distended veins, and muffled heart sounds are signs that the cardiovascular system has been compromised. Therefore, Beck’s triad is a common diagnostic procedure for cardiac tamponade. EKG testing can be utilized for additional screening along with signs of shock such as tachycardia, loss of consciousness, and difficulty breathing. Lastly, an echocardiogram can be utilized as a diagnostic tool by confirming fluid buildup around the heart.

Step 2 Treatment

Cardiac tamponade occurs when fluid fills the pericardial sac surrounding the heart. The buildup in the pericardial sac restricts the heart muscle from expanding and pumping blood, compromising the cardiovascular system. Fluid can be removed from the pericardial sac through pericardiocentesis, which restores cardiovascular functioning. Therefore pericardiocentesis is the first line of defense when treating tamponade. An ultrasound is utilized to improve the accuracy of the procedure, reducing risk to the patient. After fluids are cleared from the pericardial sac and heart functioning is restored the underlying cause of tamponade must be treated. Additional research on this topic is recommended, especially for those preparing to enter or currently working in the medical field.

1 Kelly, R., Lang, R., Oudiz, R., Talavera, F., Yarlagadda, C. (2016, November 12). Cardiac Tamponade. Retrieved from emedicine.medscape.com.

2 Barwell, J., Leonard, L., Weathrspoon, D. (2015, November 15). Cardiac Tamponade. Retrieved from www.healthline.com.

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