What is it?

An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) means that your heart is bigger than normal. Your heart can become enlarged if the muscle gets thicker, due to a heart muscle disease or due to any condition that makes it work harder than usuall (just like other muscles in your body that enlarge when you work out). It can also become enlarged if the chambers widen.
There are many causes to cardiomegaly, among them: ischemic heart disease or a heart attack (conditions in which blood and oxygen supply to your heart is impaired), high blood pressure, valvular diseases, cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle), hormonal abnormalities such as with thyroid disease, arrhythmias, congenital malformations, and more.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Megacardia
- Megalocardia
- Left ventricular hypertrophy

Signs & symptoms

An enlarged heart for itself does not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they usually attributed to heart failure – this is when your heart can't pump blood effectively. Symptoms of a heart failure may include:
* shortness of breath
* swelling in the legs or abdomen caused by fluid buildup (edema)
* fatigue
* dizziness or fainting
* an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
* chest pain


Your doctor will start with a physical exam and a discussion of your medical history and symptoms.
A simple chest X-ray can show whether your heart is enlarged.
Additional tests can be used to check the structure and function of your heart and to reveal the cause for the enlargement, including:
* ECG – measures the electrical activity of your heart
* echocardiogram – un ultrasound of your heart that shows the size, shape and function of your heart and valves.
* blood tests to check for substances related to certain conditions that may be causing your heart enlargement, such as thyroid hormones.
* Stress test to detect ischemic heart disease.
* Cardiac imaging with CT or MRI


Your doctor will make a treatment plan for the condition that’s causing your enlarged heart.
For example: high blood pressure may be controlled with certain medications, while valvular disease may require surgery to fix of replace the damaged valve.
Other conditions will be treated accordingly.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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