The incidence of cardiac tamponade, an infrequent but potentially fatal event following a heart attack, has not increased despite the widespread use of clot-busting and blood-thinning medications, according to an new analysis by Duke Clinical Research Institute investigators. Since bleeding is the major side effect of such medications, researchers said concerns with increased rates of tamponade existed.
Cardiac tamponade occurs when fluids or blood fill the pericardium, the tough sac enclosing the heart. After an acute heart attack, heart muscle can rupture leading to bleeding into the pericardial sac. Fluids filling the pericardium can cause a rapid drop in blood pressure, leading to loss of consciousness or death. Often a medical emergency, physicians quickly treat it puncturing the pericardium and draining the accumulated fluid.
Prior to widespread use of clot-busting, or fibrinolytic, drugs in the early 1990s, between 4 and 8 percent of acute heart attack patients suffered from cardiac rupture and tamponade.
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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