Pericardial effusion

Normal heart and heart with pericardial effusion

In a normal heart, a thin layer called the pericardium surrounds and protects the heart. There is a small amount of fluid between the pericardium and the heart. This fluid helps cushion the heart.

But sometimes too much fluid builds up in this space around the heart. This is called pericardial effusion. This extra fluid puts pressure on the heart and can cause chest pain and serious heart problems.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.