The causes of pericardial effusion include:
- viral, bacterial, fungal, or, in rare cases, parasitic infection
- rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases
- kidney failure that leads to waste products in the blood
- metastasized cancer
- heart surgery
- some medications, such as minoxidil, penicillin, and methysergide
- chemotherapy drugs
- wounds near the heart
- underactive thyroid
- inflammation of organs
- tuberculosis, which is more likely to be a factor in developing countries
Scientists have found that in 60% of cases, the buildup of fluid around the heart is linked to a known disease.
Studies have shown that 21% of people with a cancer diagnosis develop pericardial effusion. The cancers most frequently associated with this kind of fluid buildup are lung cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.