Q:

Are there any side effects associated with treatment of fluid around the heart?

A:

Quick Answer

Doctors treat pericardial effusion, or fluid around the heart, with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes and dizziness, according to MedicineNet. Severe side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include kidney or liver failure, ulcers, edema and prolonged bleeding.

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Full Answer

Pericardial effusion occurs when fluid builds between the two layers of the pericardium surrounding the heart. The pericardium normally contains a small amount of fluid. Excessive fluid exerts pressure on the heart, leading to heart failure or death if left untreated, according to Mayo Clinic.

If a patient does not respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug treatment or the fluid accumulation compresses the heart, causing a condition called tamponade, a cardiologist may choose to surgically drain the fluid, states Mayo Clinic. In a procedure called pericardiocentesis, the cardiologist inserts a catheter between the two layers of pericardium and leaves it in place for several days to drain the fluid, explains WebMD.

A cardiologist may perform open heart surgery if the patient has blood between the layers of pericardium, states Mayo Clinic. Patients can develop this condition after heart surgery, and the cardiologist may repair any pericardium damage during the procedure. A cardiologist may seal the layers of pericardium together in a procedure called intrapericardial sclerosis, or he may perform a pericardiectomy and remove the damaged part of the pericardium, notes WebMD. The heart continues to function without the pericardium.

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