Enlarged Heart is also known as cardiomegaly. An enlarged heart may be the result of short-term stress on the body, such as pregnancy, or a medical condition, such as the weakening of the heart muscle, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems or abnormal heart rhythms. An enlarged heart may have several causes, including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
It may not pump blood effectively, which can cause congestive heart failure. It may improve over time. But most people with an enlarged heart need lifelong treatment with medications. Certain conditions may cause the heart muscle to become thicker or cause one of the chambers of the heart to dilate, making the heart larger. Depending on the condition, an enlarged heart may be temporary or permanent. An enlarged heart may be treatable by correcting the cause. Treatment for an enlarged heart can include medications, medical procedures or surgery.
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 the heart. In the other types, the muscular left ventricle becomes very thick. High blood pressure may cause the left ventricle to enlarge (a type known as hypertrophy).
Causes of Enlarged Heart
The most common cause of weakened heart’s blockages that affect the heart’s blood supply (coronary artery disease) and high blood pressure. There can be other causes, including:
- Viral infection of the heart
- Abnormal heart valve
- Pregnancy, with the heart enlarging around the time of delivery.
- Kidney disease that needs dialysis
- Alcohol or cocaine abuse
- HIV infection
- Genetic and inherited conditions
Symptoms of Enlarged Heart
Sometimes an enlarged heart doesn’t cause any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Shortness of breath
- An irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- Swelling in the legs and ankles caused by fluid build-up
Symptoms that indicate a medical emergency include:
- Chest pain
- Trouble catching the breath
- Pain in arms, back, neck, or jaw
Enlarged Heart Treatment
If medications aren’t enough to treat the enlarged heart, medical procedures or surgery may be necessary. Some surgical procedures are:
Medical devices to regulate the heartbeat. For a certain type of enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy), a pacemaker that coordinates the contractions between the left and right ventricles may be necessary. In people who may be at risk of serious arrhythmias, drug therapy or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be an option.
ICDs are small devices — about the size of a pager — implanted in the chest to continuously monitor the heart rhythm and deliver electrical shocks when needed to control abnormal, rapid heartbeats. The devices can also work as pacemakers.
If the main cause of the enlarged heart is atrial fibrillation, then you may need procedures to return the heart to the regular rhythm or to keep the heart from beating too quickly.
Heart valve surgery: If the enlarged heart is caused by a problem with one of the heart valves or if it has caused heart valve problems, you may have surgery to repair or replace the affected valve.
Coronary bypass surgery: If the enlarged heart is related to coronary artery disease, the doctor may recommend coronary artery bypass surgery.
Left ventricular assist device (LVAD): If you have heart failure, you may need this implantable mechanical pump to help the weakened heart pump.
Heart transplant: If medications can’t control the symptoms, a heart transplant may be a final option. Because of the shortage of donor’s hearts, even people who are critically ill may have a long wait before having a heart transplant.
To know more about the details regarding the disease, contact Medisys Hospital, a growing super speciality hospital in Hyderabad. They aid in improving patients’ health. You will get the best treatment according to your symptoms.