What is Enlarged Heart?
An enlarged heart is a condition where the heart gets enlarged due to various reasons like stress infection or heart conditions. It is not heart disease but the enlarged heart does not pump blood effectively and can lead to various cardiovascular complications. People who have the condition need treatment throughout their life. There are two types of enlarged heart conditions:
- Dilatation: Here the walls of the heart stretch and become thin and weak. That results in an enlarged heart.
- Hypertrophy: In this condition, the walls of the heart thicken and makes the heart less efficient.
Enlarged Heart Symptoms
For some people, there are no symptoms visible for an enlarged heart. For many others, the symptoms are seen but there are no side effects for many years. But when the signs are seen the heart is unable to pump blood properly. Some of the common signs of an enlarged heart are:
- Swelling of the feet
- Shortness of breath
- Skipping of heartbeat
- Weight gain especially around the abdomen
Some of the symptoms that need immediate attention from a cardiologist are:
- Pain in the arms, neck, jaw or back
- Trouble catching breath
- Chest pain
Who is at Risk?
Some categories of people are more at risk of developing an enlarged heart than others. The enlarged heart risk factors are:
- People who have congenital heart disease
- People with a family history of diabetes
- People who have chronic diseases like diabetes and blood pressure
- People who have had a previous history of heart disease or heart attack
- Those who are overweight or obese
- Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle
- People with thyroid disorders
- People who consume alcohol more than the prescribed limit
- People who abuse drugs
Enlarged Heart Causes
There are many reasons for enlarged heart, they are:
- Congenital or born with it or it can be a problem that develops with time.
- It can be caused due to diseases that make the heart work harder to pump blood to the body.
- High blood pressure is one of the common causes of this condition.
- Ischemic heart disease is another reason for an enlarged heart. In this condition, the walls of the arteries get thickened due to fat deposits and prevent proper blood from entering the heart.
- Diseases like cardiomyopathy, heart valve disease, thyroid disease, irregular heart rhythm can lead to this condition.
- It can also be caused due to lung disease, anaemia, scleroderma, and pulmonary hypertension.
- Drug and alcohol abuse can also lead to heart enlargement.
How is an Enlarged Heart Diagnosed?
An enlarged heart diagnosis is done after you have had some of the symptoms mentioned above. The doctor will then perform the following tests:
- Physical exam: A detailed medical history and family history is collected followed by a physical exam. A stethoscope is used to listen to any abnormal sounds from the heart.
- Chest X-Ray: It is done to check if the size of the heart has increased.
- Cardiac catheterization: This is done to check for pumping function and to look for blockages of the arteries.
- Blood tests: To check for infections or thyroid disease that can cause an enlarged heart.
- Ultrasound or echocardiogram: It is used to measure the size, pumping function, and thickness of the muscle.
How is Enlarged Heart Treated?
The enlarged heart treatment plan will be any of the following:
- Medications: Based on the reason for the enlarged heart medicine for enlarged heart is prescribed. Beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors will be given for high blood pressure, anti-arrhythmic drugs for irregular heartbeat, anticoagulants to reduce blood clots, etc.
- Medical devices: If the symptoms are severe then a medical device like a pacemaker is fitted to regulate heartbeat. ICD is implanted for people with arrhythmia.
- Surgery: If none of the above treatments provides an enlarged heart cure then surgery may be considered. It can be coronary bypass surgery, heart valve surgery, or heart transplant.
If you have the symptoms mentioned above then consult a cardiologist at Cure.fit who will conduct a thorough diagnosis. Based on the results, the team proposes treatment options that provide effective results.
How can Enlarged Hearts be Prevented?
Congenital heart condition is not preventable but all other reasons can be controlled. Some of the tips for heart enlargement prevention are:
- Consuming a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle including aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises in your routine.
- Limiting salt intake.
- Avoiding trans fat and saturated fats.
- Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.
- Regular health checks to ensure the heart is healthy.