What is enlarged heart (cardiomegaly)?
An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) means that your heart is larger than normal. Your heart expands if the muscles work too hard or the chambers expand. An enlarged heart is not a disease. It is a symptom of a heart defect or condition that causes the heart to become harder, such as cardiomyopathy, heart valve problems, or high blood pressure.
An enlarged heart does not pump blood as efficiently as an enlarged heart. This can lead to problems like stroke and heart failure. Certain conditions can cause the heart muscle to thicken, leaving one of the heart’s chambers larger. Depending on the condition, the enlarged heart can be temporary or permanent. An enlarged heart can be treated by correcting the cause. Treatment for an enlarged heart may include medications, medical procedures, or surgery.
Types of enlarged heart
The heart enlarges because of damage to the heart muscle. Up to a point, an enlarged heart can still pump blood normally. As the condition progresses, though, the heart’s pumping ability declines. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the main type of enlarged heart. The walls of both sides (also known as ventricles) become thin and stretched. This enlarges your heart.
In the other types, the muscular left ventricle becomes very thick. High blood pressure may cause your left ventricle to enlarge (a type known as hypertrophy). The thickening (which Cardiologist near me call hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) can also be inherited. An enlarged heart keeps more of its pumping ability when it’s “thick” rather than “thin.”
What are the symptoms of enlarged heart?
Sometimes an enlarged heart doesn’t cause any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include:
Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
Swelling of the legs and ankles due to increased fluid (edema)
Symptoms that indicate a medical emergency:
Difficulty holding your breath
Pain in the arms, back, neck, or jaw.
Causes of enlarged heart
An enlarged heart is caused by conditions that cause your heart to pump harder than normal or damage your heart muscle. Sometimes the heart becomes enlarged and weak for unknown reasons. This is called idiopathic cardiomegaly. Damage from a congenital (congenital) heart condition, a heart attack, or an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) can cause your heart to dilate. Other conditions associated with an enlarged heart include:
Hypertension: Your heart needs to pump hard to supply blood to the rest of your body, to stretch and tighten your muscles.
High blood pressure: Causes the left ventricle to dilate, eventually weakening the heart muscle. High blood pressure also expands the chambers above the heart.
Heart valve disease: The four valves in your heart allow blood to flow in the right direction. If the valves are damaged due to conditions such as rheumatic fever, heart defects, infections (infective endocarditis), irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation), connective tissue disorders, certain medications, or radiation treatments for cancer, your heart may enlarge.
Cardiomyopathy: This heart disease makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. As it develops, you can try to pump more blood into the vagina.
High blood pressure in the artery connecting the heart and lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Your heart needs to be pumped hard to move blood between your lungs and your heart. As a result, it can expand to the right side of your heart.
Fluid around your heart (pericardial effusion): Fluid buildup in the sac that contains your heart makes your heart appear enlarged on a chest X-ray.
Blocked arteries in your heart (coronary artery disease): With this condition, fatty plaque in the coronary arteries blocks blood flow through the coronary arteries, leading to a heart attack. When a section of heart muscle dies, your heart must pump hard to get enough blood to the rest of your body, causing it to expand.
Low red blood cell count (anemia): Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to the tissues. Untreated chronic anemia can cause a fast or irregular heartbeat. Your heart needs to pump more blood so there is no oxygen in the blood.
Thyroid disorders: Both a dysfunctional thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) and an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can lead to heart problems, including an enlarged heart.