Survival is expected to be from a few weeks to less than 4-6 months but quality of life between episodes is usually good. Chemotherapy may provide a small survival benefit.
This condition is called pericardial effusion. Fluid around the heart puts a strain on this organ's ability to pump blood efficiently. This condition can have serious complications, including death, if it isn't treated.
Treatment. In a patient experiencing significant pericardial effusion, removing even a small amount of fluid with a needle or catheter (pericardiocentesis) relieves the pressure around the heart, and the patient usually feels much better.
If pericardial effusion persists at mild levels over a long period of time, affected dogs may also develop muscle wasting. In severe cases, especially with an acute onset of disease, pericardial effusion may cause sudden collapse and death with no prior signs.
The treatment for fluid around the heart depends on what is causing the buildup, but it may involve medications and various procedures. These include: ibuprofen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can help control inflammation. diuretics, which can treat fluid buildup due to heart failure.
All of these conditions can be managed medically, which typically resolves the pericardial effusion. "When possible, pericardial effusion is treated by addressing the underlying disease." If your dog is critically ill due to cardiac tamponade, your veterinarian may attempt to remove the fluid surrounding the heart.
The most common causes of pericardial effusion include bleeding from a heart base, a right atrial tumor, or idiopathic (from unknown causes) inflammation. Other less common causes include bleeding disorders, bacterial or viral infections, heart failure, low blood protein levels or other ill-defined causes.
During pericardiocentesis, a doctor inserts a needle through the chest wall and into the tissue around the heart. Once the needle is inside the pericardium, the doctor inserts a long, thin tube called a catheter. The doctor uses the catheter to drain excess fluid. The catheter may come right out after the procedure.
Pericardial effusion can result from inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis) after an illness or injury. In some settings, large effusions may be caused by certain cancers. A blockage of pericardial fluids or a collection of blood within the pericardium also can lead to this condition.
How is it treated? If there is only a small amount of extra fluid in your pericardium, you may not need treatment. The extra fluid may go away on its own. Treatment depends on the cause of the extra fluid, the amount of fluid, and your symptoms.
With the pressure elevated inside the heart, the heart has a lower cardiac output, leading to right-sided congestive heart failure. Fluid retention throughout the body typically follows ascites, swelling of the limbs, and weakness or collapse. Dogs and cats are both susceptible to pericardial effusion.
Many dogs live a long time after being diagnosed with a heart murmur, and some can even live years after being diagnosed with heart failure.
Sadly, the life expectancy in most cases of enlarged heart in dogs is poor. Your vet will advise you on your dog's expected prognosis, taking into account the progression of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Generally, the life expectancy is from six to 24 months.
Heart failure and heart disease can also be caused by heartworm disease, so making sure your dog is on a good heartworm prevention is crucial. Many dogs live a long time after being diagnosed with a heart murmur, and some can even live years after being diagnosed with heart failure.
Pericardial inflammation may be caused by infection or may be caused by idiopathic (undeterminable) inflammation of the pericardium. Other causes of pericardial effusion include trauma, clotting disorders, rupture of the left atrium of the heart, and congestive heart failure.