What Does it Mean to Have an Enlarged Heart ?

An enlarged heart, also known by its medical terminology as cardiomegaly, enlarges because of damage to the heart muscle. The main cause of an enlarged heart is when the walls of the ventricles become thin and stretched beyond their normal size. This is known as dilated cardiomyopathy. It can also be due to a thickening of the ventricles. This is known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

There are several factors that can lead to an enlarged heart.  These include:

  • Pregnancy
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fluid around the heart
  • Excessive iron in the body
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • HIV
  • Alcohol or cocaine use
  • Abnormal heart valve
  • Viral infection of the heart
  • Genetics
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

If a person experiences shortness of breath, an abnormal heart rhythm or edema these could be signs of an enlarged heart and be a reason for your doctor to conduct further tests. The diagnosis of an enlarged heart can be made by x-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress test, CT scan or an MRI.

Treatment  for an enlarged heart may include taking medications that are prescribed once the cause of the condition has been determined.  It is also possible that treatment may require heart valve surgery, coronary bypass surgery, and a heart transplant. 

Lifestyle changes can also help people who have enlarged hearts. It is important to quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, limit salt intake, control diabetes, and get a moderate amount of exercise.

Having an enlarged heart isn’t something that a person would be able to diagnose on their own. Speak to your physician if you have reason to be concerned. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.