A thin sac-like protective membrane that surrounds the heart is called the pericardium. There are multiple delicate layers that make up the pericardium that may experience a build up of fluid when it gets infected or becomes injured. The medical term used to characterize this condition is called pericardial effusion. When fluid builds up in the pericardium around the heart, the heart is not able to pump blood as efficiently as it should.
Information. Fluid around the heart is commonly associated with pleural effusion or the buildup of fluid around the lungs. Conditions that can cause both pericardial effusion and pleural effusion include pneumonia, injury, trauma, organ failure, chest cold, and congestive heart failure. Pericardial effusion is most common among older adults, but it can happen at any age. There are three classifications of pericardial effusion that are based on how much fluid is surrounding the heart. These groups are mild, moderate, and large. Individuals with large pericardial effusion may have to be treated in a way that allows for continuous fluid drainage from the pericardium.