Beck triad

Dr Owen Kang and Dr Amir Rezaee et al.

Beck triad is a collection of three clinical signs associated with pericardial tamponade which is due to excess accumulation of fluid within the pericardial sac. The three signs are:

  1. low blood pressure (weak pulse or narrow pulse pressure)
  2. muffled heart sounds 
  3. raised jugular venous pressure 


Accumulation of fluid in pericardial sac, particularly if it happens quickly, can result in marked increased pressure outside the heart; this subsequently reduces ability of ventricles to accommodate enough blood volume at the end of diastole. Based on Frank Starling's law, less end diastolic volume means weaker stroke volume and hence lower systolic blood pressure. Also, increased outside pressure reduces end systolic filling capacity of the atria, hence rapid increase and higher pressure in atria lead to increase pressure and distension in the jugular veins even when the patient is upright in position. Excess fluid around the heart deadens the cardiac sounds.

History and etymology 

It was described in 1935 by an American cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Calude Beck.

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Article information

rID: 42028
System: Cardiac
Section: Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Beck's triad

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