• COVID-19 Presenting as Recurrent Pericardial Effusion

      Tran, Dena H; Gupta, Anuj; Verceles, Avelino C; Chow, Robert D (Cureus, Inc., 2021-10-11)
      Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) emerged from Wuhan, China, in 2019, causing coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) and creating a global pandemic affecting millions of people worldwide. Though COVID-19 primarily affects the pulmonary structures, deleterious effects can also occur in the cardiac system. We present a case of a patient with recurrent pericardial effusions secondary to COVID-19 infection, an unusual cardiovascular manifestation of this disease. A 47-year-old man presented with altered mental status and tested positive for COVID-19. He left against medical advice and later presented two weeks later with pleuritic chest pain associated with shortness of breath. His symptoms were attributed to a moderate- to large-sized pericardial effusion, without evidence of tamponade, as confirmed by echocardiography. The fluid was removed by pericardiocentesis; analysis was negative for malignant cells, inflammatory markers, or microbiologic studies. Reaccumulation of the fluid necessitated placement of a pericardial window, resulting in the resolution of his symptoms. There are limited case reports demonstrating the association of pericardial effusion with COVID-19 infection. The effusion is likely secondary to the inflammatory response leading to capillary leakage, resulting in pericardial fluid traversing the serous pericardium. In addition to other demonstrated cardiovascular effects, COVID-19 appears to be associated with recurrent pericardial effusion. Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, it is essential to consider pericardial effusion as a rare but potential complication of this virus. The pericardial effusion can be the primary clinical manifestation, recurrent in nature, and potentially result in tamponade physiology.