Cardiomegaly (Enlarged Heart) – Symptoms, Causes And Treatment


Cardiomegaly is a medical condition in which the heart is bigger in size than its usual size. The condition is commonly termed as an enlarged heart. Cardiomegaly is in no way any type of disease, but a condition that is observed during an imaging test or a chest X-ray . In some cases, you may temporarily develop an enlarged heart due to bodily stress (such as pregnancy, any medical condition or heart valve problems). An enlarged heart is the sign of another condition, which makes the heart work harder.

Older people, that is, individuals above the age of 60 are increasingly prone to developing cardiomegaly. The condition arises when any underlying ailments such as cardiomyopathy, heart valve problems, or high blood pressure increases the workload of your heart .

The underlying causes the heart muscle to thicken, or the chambers of the heart to dilate. This results in the inefficient pumping of blood, thereby leading to complications such as heart failure or stroke. An enlarged heart can be temporary or in some cases, permanent .

The signs of the condition arise only when the condition becomes severe. In the initial stages, there will be no symptoms that indicate the development of the condition.

During the moderate stage of the condition, the symptoms will be

In the severe stage, the symptoms will include

Severe symptoms require immediate medical attention.

An enlarged heart can be the congenital or something that develops over time. While some people can be born with the condition, the number of people being affected by the condition with time is almost equal. Your heart can expand in size as a result of any disease that requires your heart to work hard and pump more blood. The most common causes of cardiomegaly are high blood pressure and ischemic heart disease .

The other causes of cardiomegaly are mentioned below.

Connective tissue diseases, infections and even some medications can cause damage to your valves. The valves direct the blood flow in the right direction through the heart. When you are suffering from a heart valve disease, the blood will flow backwards - thereby requiring the heart to do the extra work .

A progressive type of heart disease, cardiomyopathy is of various types. This disease also causes the heart muscle to enlarge, causing damages in the heart. Cardiomyopathy causes your heart to become weak, resulting in it being unable to carry out its functions .

This causes fatty deposits or plaques to build up in the arteries and results in the narrowing of the arteries. Coronary artery disease causes a lack of oxygen supply.

In this condition, the heart works extra as the blood is pumped with more force than the usual force. This puts a strain on your heart and arteries.

When an individual is affected by any disease related to the thyroid, such as overproduction (hyperthyroidism) and underproduction (hypothyroidism) of thyroid - it affects the blood pressure, heart rate and eventually the size of the heart.

The causes of cardiomegaly are as follows:  

Some people are at more risk of developing the condition than others. Individuals with the following factors are more likely to get cardiomegaly.

The risk factors include

The condition poses the risk of developing various complications, such as

In order to examine the condition, the doctor will carry out a number of tests. The initial step in the diagnosis will be a physical examination where the doctor will discuss regarding your symptoms. After that, the doctor will take a chest X-ray, so as to understand the enlargement of your heart. If enlargement is diagnosed, the doctor will carry out the following tests to understand the cause of enlargement .

This test will monitor the electrical activity in your heart. It helps in diagnosing an irregular heart rhythm, as well as ischaemia .

Under this test, sound waves will be used to examine and understand the problems present within the heart's chambers.

These tests will help in understanding if there are any issues within your blood, which can further indicate the presence of any issues .

This test will require you to work out on a treadmill or a bike while being hooked up to blood pressure and heart monitors. The stress test will help the doctor in understanding the functioning of your heart while carrying out any physical activity.

These tests will involve X-rays, which will be used to develop detailed images of your heart, as well as the other structures in your chest. CT scans will help the doctor in understanding the possible developments of any valve disease or inflammation .

This test will make use of strong magnets and radio waves to produce the images of your heart.

Under this method, a tube will be inserted into the groin, to the heart through the blood vessels. Using that, a sample of the heart tissue will be taken to examine and analyse.

The measures for treating the condition will be dependent upon the cause .

For high blood pressure: ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and beta-blockers.

For heart valve problems: Surgery to fix or replaced the damaged valve.

For irregular heartbeat: Anti-arrhythmic drugs, pacemaker, an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).

For narrowed coronary arteries: Percutaneous coronary intervention, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), and nitrates.

For heart failure: Diuretics, beta-blockers and inotropes, and in some people.

In severe cases, surgery will be advised by the doctor .

And some people will be required to use medical devices to regulate their heartbeat.

You can improve your condition by adopting various means and measures. There is no way to cure it through changes in your lifestyle or by adopting the home remedies. However, you can manage the symptoms of the condition   .

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