Enlarged Heart

enlarged heart cardiomyopathy

Last Updated August 23rd, 2019

Enlarged heart or cardiomegaly is the condition where the heart expands in size, mostly because of swelling in the cardiac tissues. An enlarged heart is unable to pump blood properly. Thus the symptoms of cardiomegaly are thus related to improper circulation - swelling in limbs, fatigue, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, etc.
The treatment of an enlarged heart depends on what the actual cause is. The factors that can cause cardiomegaly are - hypertension, alcohol use, smoking, heart valve diseases, etc. At times even medications such as ACEs can lead to swelling of heart. It can be treated by controlling blood pressure, curbing substance abuse, medications, or implanting a cardiac device.
Enlarged heart or cardiomegaly can cause a wide array of symptoms. These are mostly associated with poor circulation of blood within the body. However, in rare cases, an enlarged heart can cause congestive heart failure. Here, there is excess fluid build-up in the tissues and this drastically brings down the pumping capacity of the heart. The risk of sudden cardiac arrest increases manifold.
One of the most shocking facts about enlarged heart in children is that it can mimic the symptoms of common childhood illnesses. It can be easily misdiagnosed as common cold, asthma, or the flu. Some children may also have stomach aches. Dizziness and fainting is commonly seen in cases of pediatric cardiomegaly. If the extent of the condition is severe, it may require a heart transplant.

What Is An Enlarged Heart Or ‘Cardiomegaly’?

When the heart becomes abnormally enlarged, often to a cardiovascular disease, the patient is said to be suffering from cardiomegaly. In other words, the enlargement of the heart is a symptom of a deeper medical problem. Most often, it arises as a consequence of common conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or coronary artery disease. In many cases, the condition is asymptomatic, however, it is generally related to a higher risk of congestive heart failure and cardiac arrest. If detected early, the condition can be managed well and complications can be avoided.

 

What Causes This?

ENLARGED HEART diagramSome individuals are born with an abnormally large heart. In others, cardiomegaly can be an acquired condition on account of certain lifestyle factors. Genetic factors may also have a role to play. Any condition that damages heart muscles or weakens them can potentially become a cause for the enlargement of the heart. For instance, a patient who has suffered from myocardial infarction may have permanently lost function in a certain section of heart muscle. In order to compensate for this, other areas of the heart have to work harder.

In general, a heart that is overworked is susceptible to cardiomegaly. This can also happen when the patient is suffering from atherosclerosis, often in the form of coronary artery disease. Alternatively, the patient may be suffering from a rare connective tissue disorder called Marfan syndrome which causes weakness in the connective tissues. Some recognized causes for cardiomegaly include:

  • Chronic hypertension or high blood pressure.
  • A family history of cardiomegaly or even of other cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension or heart attack.
  • A diet high in cholesterol.
  • Smoking.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Being pregnant.
  • Anaemia.
  • Viral infection of the heart.
  • Atrial fibrillation.
  • Heart valve disease.
  • Thyroid disease.
  • Connective tissue disorders.
  • Atherosclerosis or buildup of plaque in the arteries.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Amyloidosis.
  • Cancers such as breast cancer.
  • Congenital heart failure.
  • Disturbed breathing during sleep.
  • Pericardial effusion or the buildup of fluid around the heart.
  • Hemochromatosis.
  • Advanced kidney disease.

 

What Are The Signs Of An Enlarged Heart?

enlarged heart xrayWhen the heart is abnormally enlarged, it becomes less able to pump blood as it should. As the organ struggles to keep up with the requirements of pumping oxygenated blood to the other organs and tissues, the patient may suffer from heart palpitations and feel breathless. They may even faint. However, in some cases, the condition remains silent and does not produce any clearly noticeable symptoms.A fuller list of possible symptoms appears below.

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cough.
  • Swelling in ankles or feet.
  • Weight gain, usually around the midsection.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fainting.
  • Skipped heartbeats.
  • Abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia.

 

Are There Different Types Of Cardiomegaly?

Yes, there are two main forms of cardiomegaly, namely, the dilative and hypertrophic types.

  • Dilative cardiomegaly is linked with any condition that causes dilation of the myocardium which is the thick muscular tissue forming the middle layer of the heart wall. Usually, this is associated with a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy which is a disease of heart muscle.
  • The second type of cardiomegaly arises as a result of overworking the heart’s muscles. This is known as the hypertrophic form of cardiomegaly and develops as a consequence of conditions such as chronic hypertension, valve damage and even myocardial infarction, all of which can place abnormally high stresses on the organ.

 

Am I At Risk Of Developing Any Severe Complications?

Possibly, yes. Patients with cardiomegaly should be alerted to the risk of developing secondary problems, some of which can be critical and even life-threatening. An abnormally large heart may not be able to perform its pumping action effectively, and eventually, this may lead to congestive heart failure which can be fatal. The enlargement of the heart can even interfere with valve function, preventing the valves from closing properly when they should. As a result, there can be problems like regurgitation and clot formation.

More details regarding some probable complications of cardiomegaly are given below:

  • Blood clots: Abnormal heart rhythm as a result of cardiomegaly increases the risk of developing blood clots. These clots can then travel through the bloodstream until they become lodged in a blood vessel and obstruct blood flow, depriving the organ or tissue of the oxygen it needs. When a clot gets stuck in an artery feeding the brain, the outcome is a stroke and this can even be fatal. Alternatively, it could lead to a pulmonary embolism.
  • Congestive heart failure: When the heart muscles are too weak to pump efficiently, the heart is simply unable to reach enough blood to all the tissues and organs that need it. This condition is known as heart failure. It is a medical emergency.
  • Sudden cardiac death: This is also known as cardiac arrest. It usually occurs as a result of abnormal heart rhythm. The patient may completely collapse and stop breathing.

 

What Tests Are Needed To Diagnose An Enlarged Heart?

enlarged heart cardiomyopathyIf you have observed a few or more of the symptoms listed above and have some of the risk factors mentioned earlier, you should visit a doctor in order to get a formal diagnosis. The following procedures may be performed:

  • Physical examination. Relevant findings include hypertension, shortness of breath and swollen legs. Auscultation with a stethoscope may reveal relevant indications such as heart murmurs or abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Medical history. Relevant findings include a family history of heart disease or a personal history of smoking, diabetes, atherosclerosis or breast cancer.
  • Blood tests can help to identify endocrine disorders or infections.
  • Chest X-ray.
  • Electrocardiogram.
  • Echocardiogram.
  • Exercise stress test.
  • Computerised tomography (CT) imaging.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests.
  • Tissue biopsy.

Treating an enlarged heart involves medications and might even require surgical intervention, in case of extreme cases.  The list of medications that are usually prescribed to such patients is:

  • Diuretics to reduce sodium content from the blood.
  • ACE inhibitors which regulate blood pressure.
  • ARBs, for those who cannot be prescribed ACE inhibitors.
  • Beta blockers and anticoagulants to improve cardiac function.

Surgical procedures generally performed are:

  • Heart valve surgery or coronary by-pass surgery if a coronary artery disease is responsible for the condition.
  • Fixing up the patient with a pacemaker that regulates heartbeat.
  • Heart transplantation if the above methods prove ineffective.

Prevention of any cardiac disorder involves following a heart-healthy diet, performing physical exercises, and refraining from substance abuse. If one has a family history of heart disease, one must go for regular heart check-ups.  One can also prevent cardiomegaly by controlling other associated conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Managing stress is also directly linked to prevention of heart diseases.

 

Facts

  • If your blood pressure is consistently higher than 140/90, then there are high chances of thickening of cardiac walls. This happens because the cardiac muscles have to work harder to keep up with the high blood pressure.

Facts

  • Enlarged heart could also result from congenital heart defects. Currently there are more than 1 million Americans living with congenital cardiac disorders.
  • The medical term for enlarged heart is cardiomegaly and it is most often diagnosed during routine heart x-rays.

Facts

  • In many pregnant women, cardiomegaly sets in during the time of delivery. This is called as peripartum cardiomyopathy.
  • Gaining too much weight, especially in around the waist could be a big risk factor in developing such cardiac disorders.

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Enlarged heart or cardiomegaly is the condition where the heart expands in size, mostly because of swelling in the cardiac tissues. An enlarged heart is unable to pump blood properly. Thus the symptoms of cardiomegaly are thus related to improper circulation - swelling in limbs, fatigue, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, etc.
The treatment of an enlarged heart depends on what the actual cause is. The factors that can cause cardiomegaly are - hypertension, alcohol use, smoking, heart valve diseases, etc. At times even medications such as ACEs can lead to swelling of heart. It can be treated by controlling blood pressure, curbing substance abuse, medications, or implanting a cardiac device.
Enlarged heart or cardiomegaly can cause a wide array of symptoms. These are mostly associated with poor circulation of blood within the body. However, in rare cases, an enlarged heart can cause congestive heart failure. Here, there is excess fluid build-up in the tissues and this drastically brings down the pumping capacity of the heart. The risk of sudden cardiac arrest increases manifold.
One of the most shocking facts about enlarged heart in children is that it can mimic the symptoms of common childhood illnesses. It can be easily misdiagnosed as common cold, asthma, or the flu. Some children may also have stomach aches. Dizziness and fainting is commonly seen in cases of pediatric cardiomegaly. If the extent of the condition is severe, it may require a heart transplant.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Studies suggest that drinking green tea can lower LDL cholesterol levels. Drink green tea to improve your overall cardiovascular health.
  • Maintain a level of physical activity but stop immediately you feel dizzy our nauseous.
  • Limit the consumption of low-nutrient foods such as processed foods or junk.
Don'ts
  • Start any fitness or exercise routine without consulting your doctor. The type of exercise one is allowed to do vary from patient to patient.
  • Perform sudden or fast moving exercises/ sports.
  • Consume a high –salt diet. Similarly, eliminate alcohol, sugar, and trans-fats from your diet.

 

 

 

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macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigious superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
bananas exercise
10 health reasons why you should go “bananas” over bananas! Bananas:The world's most popular fruit comes with a host of unbelievable health benefits. Find out how you can…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…