Enlarged Heart Medical Symptoms

by Gabriella Sannino on January 25, 2010



Causes – The enlarged heart is often genetically inherited.  Other causes of cardiomegaly include high blood pressure that forces the heart to overwork, heart valve disease, weakness of the heart muscle, arrhythmia, pulmonary hypertension, anemia or low red blood cell count, thyroid malfunction, excessive iron in the body and abnormal protein buildup.  Substance abuse and sleep apnea can also contribute to the symptoms of an enlarged heart.  In general, events that cause the heart to overwork are especially dangerous.  Accordingly, athletes are encouraged to undergo regular diagnosis for enlarged heart.

Symptoms – Symptoms of the enlarged heart include swelling (edema), breathing difficulties or shortness of breath (dyspnea), general weakness, dizziness, potentially dangerous abnormal heart rates (arrhythmia) and strong, rapid or irregular palpitations.  Cardiomegaly often goes unnoticed for long periods of time.  Patients with high blood pressure are often unaware of the prevailing symptoms of an enlarged heart.

Treatment – Effective treatments for an enlarged heart address the enlarged heart itself as well as the underlying conditions.  These treatment options may include a combination of medical therapies, surgical procedures and implantation of monitoring devices such as a pacemaker or cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).  Medication therapies include the use of diuretics, angiotension-converter enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotension receptor blocker (ARBs), Beta-blockers and digoxin.  The most common surgical treatment options are heart valve surgery and heart transplantation.  Patients can also help themselves by changing negative behavioral patterns such as smoking, weight gain, unregulated diabetes, alcohol consumption and sleep habits.

Diagnosis – The enlarged heart is often discovered in X-rays for unrelated conditions, but physicians utilize three primary diagnosis methods to determine the extent of the condition and determine the appropriate therapy.  The chest x-ray employs a radiation-based image, which allows the physician to analyze the shape, size and structure of the heart and lungs.  An electrocardiogram (EKG) displays a moving image of the working heart enabling the physician to observe the thickness, size and functionality of the heart.  The electrocardiogram exhibits the motion pattern and structure of the four heart valves and reveals any leakage or narrowing.  An electrocardiogram is often accompanied by a Doppler ultrasound that helps to evaluate the blood flow through the valves.  Physicians also conduct stress tests, which require the patient to exercise while connected to an electrocardiogram (EKG).  The stress test demonstrates how the heart performs under exertion.

Prevention – Programs that prevent the underlying diseases are the most effective preventive therapies.  These programs include engaging a nutritionally sound diet, including strict low-fat, low-sodium intake, diligent cholesterol maintenance, regularly monitoring blood pressure, a strategic exercise regimen and regular visits to a cardiologist.  Committing to a proper diet and sound exercise program can control the damage and sometimes reverse the effects of an enlarged heart.

Enlarged Heart


Enlarged Heart


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