Munson Health
Cardiac Tamponade

Back to Document

by Kohnle D

(Tamponade; Pericardial Tamponade)



Cardiac tamponade can be caused by a variety of factors and conditions, including:
  • Pericarditis —an inflammation of the sac that surrounds the heart, caused by bacterial or viral infections
  • Bleeding into the pericardium, caused by injury
  • Ruptured heart muscle
  • Cancer in or near the heart


This is a serious condition. It can be life-threatening and requires immediate hospitalization and treatment.
Treatments are given to:
  • Save the patient's life
  • Improve heart function
  • Relieve symptoms
Treatments that are given for cardiac tamponade include:
  • Pericardiocentesis —a procedure to drain the fluid around the heart
  • Fluids to maintain normal blood pressure
  • Antibiotics
  • Medications to help increase blood pressure to normal levels
  • Oxygen to reduce workload on the heart
  • Surgery to remove or cut part of the pericardium
If you are diagnosed with cardiac tamponade, follow your doctor's instructions .


American Heart Association

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute



Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada



Braverman A, Sundaresan S. Cardiac tamponade and severe ventricular dysfunction. Ann Intern Med . 1994;120:5:442. Available at: . Accessed January 23, 2013.

Cardiac tamponade. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 15, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2013.

What is pericarditis? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed January 23, 2013.


Revision Information