Causes & Symptoms of Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly & Its Treatment, Home Remedies, Recovery, Prognosis

In medical field term cardiomegaly is referred to a condition where abnormal enlargement of heart is observed.

Causes of Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

Causes of Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

There are various causes having negative impact on heart leading to enlarged heart. One needs to visit a doctor to find out the exact cause. There are three prime causes that lead to enlarged heart condition:

  • High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the most common causes for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly.
  • There are numerous coronary artery conditions that can cause this abnormal heart condition.
  • Damaged heart muscles may lead to enlarged heart or cardiomegaly.

In above conditions blood pumping capacity of heart is severely compromised, which ultimately leads to heart failure.

Symptoms of Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

What happens when you have an enlarged heart? There are numerous symptoms for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly. Some of the common enlarged heart symptoms include breathlessness, drastic rise in abdominal girth, skipped heartbeat or abnormal heart rhythm (also known as arrhythmia), fatigue, sudden weight gain and more are some of the common symptoms that call for immediate medical help. Also there are some rare situations where none of the above symptoms are observed. If the condition is identified in the early stage, then this abnormal heart condition can be cured, but in case of negligence it becomes fatal.

Tests to Diagnose Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

Doctors perform series of test for diagnosing enlarged heart or cardiomegaly and also the cause for the same. Knowing the cause for the problem is very important for prescribing the treatment. The list of tests performed includes:

  • X-ray. The first and the foremost test performed by doctors are X-ray. The enlarged heart size gets highlighted in the X-ray report. Based on this report other tests are prescribed.
  • Electrocardiogram. In this test for diagnosing enlarged heart or cardiomegaly, heart impulses are recorded by attaching electrodes on the skin. This test helps in identifying the electrical activity of heart. Report of this test enables doctors to identify the abnormal heart rhythm, which can cause heart attack.
  • Stress test. This test clear idea about how your heart works at the time of intense physical activity. This test is done on a treadmill in running condition.

Treatment for Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

What can be done for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly? Enlarged heart or cardiomegaly is a health condition where patient may have to rely on lifelong medication. The treatment focuses or targets to recover the underlying cause. Medication includes the following:

  • Diuretics are prescribed for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly as they control the level of water and sodium in the body. This lowers the pressure on blood and arteries.
  • ACE i.e., Angiotensin-converting enzyme for managing enlarged heart or cardiomegaly controls blood pressure and also improves the heart pumping capacity.
  • ARBs i.e., Angiotensin receptor blockers is an alternative medication for people who cannot take ACE inhibitors.
  • Beta blockers also contributes in lowering the blood pressure and facilitating normal heart functioning.

Home Remedies for Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

Intake of healthy and nutritious food helps in making a healthy heart. There are some simple home remedies that can be done for improving enlarged heart or cardiomegaly condition. They are as follows:

  • Turmeric is an excellent home remedy for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly. Increase intake of turmeric in food as it has one very good component curcumin, which is very effective fighting enlarged heart problem. Curcumin secrets an interesting substance called allicin, which is very helpful in maintaining the normal functioning of the heart.
  • Green tea has antioxidant properties that adds to the metabolizing. Also, it does not have caffeine, hence; replacing regular tea or coffee with green tea helps in maintaining body weight.
  • Getting adequate sleep is a good home remedy. Sleep of minimum 8 hours of sound seep is very much helpful in treating enlarged heart or cardiomegaly. This is so because, this way body gets the required amount of rest.
  • Exercise secretes sweat causing dehydration in the body, hence; it is very important to keep the body hydrated by drinking at least 7 to 8 glasses of everyday. Hydrated body remain active and also facilitate other body functions.

Diet for Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

Diet for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly includes consuming low salt foods, avoiding fat content foods, quitting drinking and smoking. Consume natural diet such as lean meat, nuts, cereals, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

As such there is no defined recovery period for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly, it completely depends on the severity as well as the cause. In addition, it also depends on the contribution paid by the patient in the healing process. Cheating with diet/exercise and also skipping medicines can extends the recovery period or healing time for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly. On the contrary, following medical instructions carefully and adapting a balanced and active lifestyle can show instant improvement in the recovery process.

Prevention of Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

If the enlarged heart or cardiomegaly condition is identified in the early stage, then proper treatment can prevent the condition from becomes worst. Controlling or keeping a check on the risk factor can act as a good preventive action. As the condition is related to heart and stress, hence; one should try to live a stress-free life. Include a balanced diet and exercise in their daily regime and so on. This will keep the heart healthy and will also facilitate smooth blood flow in the body.

Risk Factors for Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

The chances of having enlarged heart or cardiomegaly drastically increases, if the person is having any of the below mentioned risk factors:

  • High blood pressure is a risk factor for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly, as it creates more stress on the heart affecting the normal blood pump mechanism.
  • If the immediately relative of the patient, such as parent or siblings has this condition then the possibility of having enlarged heart or cardiomegaly increases considerably.
  • Severe blockage in blood arteries have adverse effect on blood pumping mechanism leading enlarged heart or cardiomegaly.
  • Person who has suffered heart attack is at a higher risk of developing enlarged heart or cardiomegaly.
  • Congenital heart diseases are also a factor of risk. If the person has some problem in the structure of the heart since birth, then the chances of having cardiomegaly becomes fairly high.

Complications of Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

Can you die from an enlarged heart? Some of the severe compactions of enlarged heart or cardiomegaly are:

  • Another severe complication is a cardiac arrest, which may result in sudden death. Enlarged heart faces problem in maintaining the normal heart rhythm. Either the rhythm becomes too slow to pump blood or too fast leading to skipped heartbeat.
  • Heart failure is one of the fatal complications of enlarged heart or cardiomegaly. In heart failure, the heart muscles become weak and the ventricles starts stretching, this adversely affect heart’s blood pumping capacity.
  • Patient suffering from abnormal heart size is more prone to form blood clots. Initially the clot develops on the lining of blood vessels, but in case they enter blood stream, can block the blood flow in the body leading to heart attack or stroke.

Prognosis/Outlook for Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

Enlarged heart or cardiomegaly prognosis and treatment varies from patient to patient based on the cause. Prognosis or outlook actually depends on the underlying factors or the causes responsible for enlarged heart or cardiomegaly. After the cause is identified a systematic approach is followed for the treatment.

Lifestyle Changes for Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

Although the patient cannot cure enlarged heart or cardiomegaly, but there are some changes that can be made in the lifestyle for making the condition. Some of these changes are:

  • Avoid weight gain and maintain proper weight.
  • Quit smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid excess salt intake.
  • Keep a check on blood pressure.
  • Adopt healthy and active lifestyle.
  • Take minimum 8 hours of sleep everyday.
  • Minimize or stop caffeine intake.

Coping with Enlarged Heart or Cardiomegaly

The best way to cope with enlarged heart or cardiomegaly is to reduce the amount of both physical as well as mental health. One should contribute in the treatment with positive attitude and should also consider the simple, but effective home remedies for restricting the situation from getting worse. Timely medication also plays a crucial role in building coping strength.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 18, 2017

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