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Small Pericardial Effusion-I'm scared.
kari69 posted:

I am a 43 year old female who went in to see her doctor because I was having severe pms symptoms and thought I may be starting perimenopause. I was having palpitations, rapid heartbeart, extremely sore breasts, adrenaline surges etc. So she ordered me a CBC with differential, TSH, FSH and oh25vitamin d. All my blood work came back normal. She then sent me 3 days ago for an echocardiagram. They called me friday afternoon saying I had a small pericardial effusion with no evidence of tampenade and they wanted me to have a chest xray and more blood work done. Now I have an anxiety disorder and hearing this information has sent me over the edge. should I be worrying myself sick? wouldn't the echo be really bad if I was ready to have a heart attack? my ekg also came back normal. I do have arthritis in my back, could this cause this effusion?

Thanks for any help!!
cardiostarusa1 responded:

"Should I be worrying myself sick?""

Not necessarily.

"Wouldn't the echo be really bad if I was ready to have a heart attack?"

Well, since a heart attack is caused by a totally blocked/occluded coronary artery, an echo would then have to be suggestive of severe myocardial ischemia, which could be indicated by low wall motion (hypokinesis), thus requiring further diagnostics, such as nuclear imaging or non-invasive Cardiac CT or invasive coronary angiography.

"I do have arthritis in my back, could this cause this effusion?"

Not typically.

"I had a small pericardial effusion......"

The pericardium, a thin membranous sac (pericardial sac) that surrounds and protects the heart, normally contains a small amount of fluid (pericardial fluid, anywhere from 10 ml-50 ml), with the sole purpose of it being to lubricate the heart's movement (beats) against the pericardium. An increase in fluid (pericardial effusion) may/can have anywhere from a minor to life-threatening impact on the heart.

Best of luck down the road of life.

Take care,


WebMD member (since 8/99)



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kari69 replied to cardiostarusa1's response:
Thanks for your reply Cardio Star.

My doctor had her assistant call me late last friday afternoon to tell me this, what I don't understand and will ask my doc when she calls me tomorrow, is why have a chest xray now? I'm guessing that maybe they didn't see that small pericardial effusion upon an anterior position and want to see if it is seen via a chest xray? I thought chest xray would be first then the echo cardiogram. That is where I am confused, wondering why they want a chest xray done because I thought an echo was more reliable. Thankfully I can say that my valves and heart are normal other than that small pericardial effusion.
cardiostarusa1 replied to kari69's response:
You're welcome.

......"why have a chest x-ray now? I thought chest x-ray would be first then the echocardiogram."

"Wondering why they want a chest x-ray done because I thought an echo was more reliable."

Things may/can get confusing at times. As reported, echocardiography is the imaging modality of choice for the diagnosis of pericardial effusion.

Also as reported, routine chest x-rays (CXRs) can help determine whether the patient has various conditions, such as, but not limited to, fluid in the lungs, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, broken ribs or air accumulating in the space surrounding a lung.

Take good care,


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