Enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) is a condition in which the heart is enlarged than normal. An enlarged heart is an indication of an underlying heart problem and needs treatment.

Signs of enlarged heart?

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue and Weakness
  • Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat
  • Swelling
  • Chest Pain
  • Fainting or Dizziness
  • Exercise Intolerance

Causes of enlarged heart?

  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Uncontrolled or long-standing high blood pressure can cause the heart muscle to thicken and become larger to compensate for the increased workload
  • Cardiomyopathy: Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle. There are different types of cardiomyopathy, including dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and restrictive cardiomyopathy, which can all result in an enlarged heart.
  • Heart Valve Diseases: Conditions such as aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve) or mitral regurgitation (leaking of the mitral valve) can cause the heart to enlarge as it tries to compensate for the inefficient flow of blood.
  • Coronary Artery Disease: Blockages in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle can lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen supply. This can cause the heart muscle to enlarge in an attempt to compensate for the decreased oxygen delivery.
  • Heart Failure: Chronic heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood effectively. The weakened heart muscle may enlarge as it tries to maintain adequate blood circulation.
  • Arrhythmias: Some types of arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, can lead to an enlarged heart if they are persistent or poorly controlled.
  • Congenital Heart Defects: Certain structural abnormalities present at birth can cause an enlarged heart. These defects may affect the heart chambers, valves, or major blood vessels.
  • Infections: Viral or bacterial infections of the heart, such as myocarditis, can cause inflammation and damage to the heart muscle, leading to an enlarged heart.
  • Thyroid Disorders: Thyroid hormone imbalances, such as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), can contribute to the development of an enlarged heart.
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse: Chronic alcohol abuse or illicit drug use can lead to cardiomegaly, as these substances can directly damage the heart muscle.

Treatment for enlarged heart?

  1. Medications to control high blood pressure, reduce fluid buildup, manage arrhythmias, or improve heart function.
  2. Lifestyle Changes includes maintaining a balanced diet low in sodium, exercising regularly under the guidance of a healthcare professional, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.
  3. Management of Underlying Conditions contributing to an enlarged heart is essential. This may involve interventions such as surgical repair of heart valve defects, procedures to open blocked coronary arteries, or treatment of thyroid disorders.
  4. Cardiac Rehabilitation programs may be recommended which involve supervised exercise, education, and counselling to improve heart health and overall well-being.
  5. Medical Devices may be recommended to manage an enlarged heart. These include devices like pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) to regulate heart rhythm, or cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices to improve heart function in certain cases of heart failure.
  6. Surgical Interventions include procedures such as heart valve repair or replacement, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) to bypass blocked arteries, or in some cases, heart transplantation.
  7. Regular follow-up appointments with a cardiologist or healthcare provider are crucial for monitoring the progress of the condition, adjusting medications as needed, and assessing the effectiveness of the treatment plan.