Just found out I have pericardial effusion. Worried and scared

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I've been having chest pains for a while and finally saw my cardiologist. He sent me for a stress test which I aced. I also had an echocardiogram which showed fluid on the right side. The doctor said not to worry and we will repeat the test in 3 months and we will decide if we need to proceed any further. He said on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most severe, Im a 2. Still I'm really afraid of what kind of treatment I will need or how invasive it will be. The pain is still there on the right side. If you are familiar with this condition,I'd appreciate any advice or information. How worried should I be? How is this treated? The thought of heart surgery terrifies me!

Thank you

Fran

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    The good news is that your doctor thinks it's mild at present, ie no tamponade or risk of such. Most times they'll treat by prescribing aspirin or similar. Effusion of this kind can often be the result of a virus or chest infection and frequently disperses on its own. If it doesn't it can be drained - the procedure is called pericardiocentesis -it's not major invasive surgery - the fluid is drained by using a needle and a thin, flexible tube (catheter) to drain the fluid.

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    • Posted

      I've had two drained and no big deal. The first was after aortic valve replacement when I had the drain attached for several days. The second was after another procedure and I knew right away what it was and told the ward sister.

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    • Posted

      my hubby had quadruple bypass back in July and they told him to be aware of the signs for a possible effusion, luckily he avoided any issues. I had pneumonia as a child which left me prone to chest infections etc., I then had another bout of pneumonia and dry pleurisy aged 50 and at first they suspected effusion because the symptoms are similar but unfortunately it wasnt quite that simple. Luckily I'm now in my late 60's and still here 😃

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    • Posted

      Hi Derek, can you tell me what i can expect if I need the procedure? The thought of a needle going near my heart is freaking me out. Is it under general anesthesia? Do they stitch you up? Is it painful? How long is recovery? Sorry for all the questions. I can't find any info on line from people who have actually had this done. thanks...

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    • Posted

      You don't need any stitches as they just stick a needle in and any fluid flows out through a tube into a jar, The first one was done under anesthesia as they were doing something else at the same time and the second with a pain killer in injected into the area.

      The recovery time is as long as it is in for the fluid to drain. The first one I was still recovering from my heart valve replacement and it was in for several days. The second was only in for a couple of hours and quite a lot came out in that time.

      If you are just a 2 it will may right itself.

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    • Posted

      Remember they have your best interests at heart and don't want to cause you unnecessary pain nor do something that might right itself as Loxie said.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the helpful info Derek. When I had the pleurisy/pneumonia, my doc told me that most effusions do disperse by themself, except when due to something more complicated than say a virus or infection, like in your case post operatively for example. Glad you got through your surgeries ok. I was so scared when my hubby had his surgery earlier this year and he was so very ill post op but he's home and doing okay and anxious to get back to work.

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    • Posted

      I'm 85 now and had pneumonia when I was 11 and the war had not long finished. I well remember how ill I was. I was saved by a new drug that had just come out at that time just called M&B after the makers (May and Baker ). When the doctor later came back to see me he said that I could now have something to eat... Give him whatever he wants. I said a banana as I craved one all during the war. They were rationed and only went to children under 5 with green ration books. My mother went over to the greengrocers and pleaded for one. I had it mashed up in milk and it tasted just as I remembered.

      When I had my heart operation the porter wheeling me to the operating theatre said that I was the calmest patient he had ever had.

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    • Posted

      I was raised in inner london at a time when coal fires were the norm, all us children had bronchitis every winter due to the smog. I was just unlucky I guess to develop pneumonia - it leaves scar tissue and now every winter I get a chest infection.

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    • Posted

      I went to live in London in 1954 and they till had Pea Souper fogs then

      with the conductor walking ahead of the bus to guide the driver.

      I only had to travel from Southfields to Wandsworth High Street. Sometimes I took the Tube from Southfields to East Putney and then a bus as that was usually quicker.

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