Fluid around the heart

Ask the doctor

Q. My uncle was told he had fluid around his heart. What does that mean, and how is it treated?

A. The heart is surrounded by a thin, two-layer sac called the pericardium. It protects the heart, limits its motion, and prevents it from expanding too much when blood volume increases. Normally, there isn't any fluid between the pericardium and the heart muscle. But there are many reasons fluid can accumulate in this space, including an infection, a heart attack, surgery, cancer, kidney failure, and a host of other conditions.

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