What are the symptoms of an enlarged heart

What are the symptoms of an enlarged heart

An enlarged heart may be a manifestation of several serious causes in the body. Although, a lot of medical studies and other statistical data shows that it generally boils down to be a result of high levels of blood pressure or coronary heart disease.

It causes irregularities in the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, this bringing about serious complications like congestive heart failure and eventual cessation. If the condition is caught beforehand, it may or may not improve over time. But it has been seen that most people with an enlarged heart have to live with a lifelong dependence on medication and regular treatment to keep the issue from flaring up.

Types of heart enlargement

The main cause of heart enlargement usually comes down to the reaction of the organ to the damage caused to the heart muscle. Even with the condition, an enlarged heart can pump blood normally up to a point. The enlarged heart symptoms are worsened if left unchecked and as the condition progresses, pumping ability gradually diminishes.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is the medical name for the main type of enlarged heart, wherein the inner walls (ventricles) of the heart are stretched excessively causing them to become thinner. This causes the heart to enlarge to prevent excess pressure on the walls, which may cause the organ to burst because of the decreased ability to handle pressure, which is caused by the thinning of the muscle.

The other type of enlarged heart symptom is called as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy wherein the muscle gets extra thick, which is called hypertrophy in medical terms. This causes the muscle on the opposite side to enlarge to balance the pressure on both sides. Hypertrophy can also be inherited.

Generally speaking, an enlarged heart has better pumping ability when thought of.


The most common, and direct cause of an enlarged heart which triggers myopathy (cessation of heartbeat) is the blockage caused by chronic bad lifestyle choices. This further causes chronic conditions like coronary heart disease and puts the patient at risk on a lifelong basis. Other causes include:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • History of Kidney diseases
  • Viral infections of the heart
  • Infections caused by HIV

Although it should be noted that all medical professionals agree to the fact that no decisive cause is responsible for an enlarged heart. One or more causes together also may contribute to the condition.

Risk factors to consider

Several risk factors come into play when we talk about heart conditions. The most primary ones being:

  • High levels of blood pressure are generally caused by a blockage of arteries from a buildup of cholesterol, causing the heart to pump harder in an effort to maintain blood pressure but causing an enlargement of the heart muscle in the process. This is directly tied to overeating junk food, which is a bad lifestyle choice.
  • Damage from a heart attack, if you’ve had a heart attack in the past, you’re at more risk for enlarged heart symptoms (cardiomegaly).
  • Damage caused by previous infections, if you’ve had a heart infection before, it may cause irreparable damage to the heart causing it to irregularly pump blood. This causes arrhythmia.

Enlarged heart symptoms

In many instances, enlarged heart symptoms are not noticeable, and they don’t come to the fore at first glance as it is not a disease in itself, but a sign of other serious conditions. It is only when the condition worsens, and the patient has a close brush with an episode of congestive heart failure that it has been noticed.

The enlarged heart symptoms of congestive heart failure are generally:

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physically intensive activities like exercise or even when lying flat on the bed.
  • Swelling or edema, in medical terms, in certain parts of the body like a leg or an arm, particularly the left side of the body.
  • Abnormal heartbeat also called a cardiac arrhythmia in medical terms.
  • Chest pain or discomfort in the area of one’s upper body, especially when it is only in certain other parts of the body, like the back, neck or jaw.
  • That said some patients may not notice any enlarged heart symptoms at all for an enlarged heart and some may feel one or two of them which worsen over time.

Why are these enlarged heart symptoms not enough?

As mentioned earlier, an enlarged heart is not a disease in itself, rather, a sign of another condition that may be causing problems to your health. An enlarged heart, therefore, is a symptom itself. Do check up with your family doctor before making any assumptions about your health. Most often, the condition of an enlarged heart can be tied to another condition such as congestive heart failure. The enlarged heart symptoms exhibited by the enlarged heart condition are often seen in many other diseases, and therefore, it may not be the condition you have to begin with.

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