Right ventricular hypertrophy is a condition in which the walls of the right ventricle are thickened due to excessive stress or pressure overload on the right ventricle.
Right ventricle is responsible for pumping deoxygenated blood back to the lungs and with excess stress the tissue increases in size and loses elasticity due to which there is a decrease in function of the organ.
What Is The Most Common Cause Of Right Ventricular Hypertrophy?
The most common cause of right ventricular hypertrophy is pulmonary hypertension in which the blood pressure in the pulmonary artery increases. This causes multiple symptoms such as shortness of breath and fainting spells. The symptoms usually go undetected and unidentified since they develop very slowly without any signs so people usually don’t even realize they have pulmonary ventricular hypertrophy. It is a life threatening condition and symptoms are usually more alarming than simple high blood pressure. Therefore, it is very important to get it diagnosed early with regular checkups and visits to a physician.
The other causes of right ventricular hypertrophy include teratology of fallot, pulmonary valve stenosis, ventricular septal defect, COPD, pulmonary emboli, cardiac fibrosis, chronic anemia (iron deficiency, folate or B12 deficiency or thalassemia) and obstructive sleep apnea.
Another cause of right ventricular hypertrophy is left ventricular failure. It is due to left ventricular failure in which the work load is increased on right ventricle leading to its hypertrophy. According to a study conducted in post-mortem examinations, in most cases hypertrophy of the right ventricle was associated with left-sided strain/ left ventricular failure.
Right ventricular hypertrophy does not always cause symptoms. It is only when the disease is advanced that the symptoms begin to appear. In severe cases of enlargement of heart, there are symptoms of respiratory insufficiency or pulmonary congestion. They are chest pain, dizziness, and loss of appetite, breathlessness, edema (fluid buildup in legs, ankles or feet), palpitations, and increased heart rate.
Complications and Risk Factors of Right Ventricular Hypertrophy
An unhealthy lifestyle and poor habits may put a person at greater risk for right ventricular hypertrophy. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle along with appropriate amount of exercise (controlling obesity) and cutting down on tobacco consumption and alcohol abuse will prevent heart and pulmonary conditions. People with congenital heart diseases, cardiomyopathies, valvular heart diseases and certain drugs affecting the heart contractility may worsen the condition of the heart.
If these right ventricular hypertrophy symptoms are not controlled, then it can lead to an enlarged heart, high blood pressure and increased heart rate. It also causes complications such as kidney or liver diseases and if not diagnosed early can also cause a heart attack.
Diagnosis and Management of Right Ventricular Failure
A physical exam is done followed by imaging tests such as an ECG (electrocardiogram) and echocardiogram done most commonly to diagnose right ventricular hypertrophy. A full medical history is very useful in diagnosing a person with a heart problem. Family history is very important in a person with a heart disease as it puts a person at a higher risk of developing right ventricular hypertrophy.
Management of right ventricular hypertrophy includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle, medications, and surgeries. Prescription medications such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta blockers, digoxin and diuretics are given to control the blood pressure and to remove excess fluid from the body. If the medications fail to relieve the symptoms then implantable devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators are used to regulate the heart beat.
In case of valvular defect, surgery may be required to fix the valves of the heart. Lastly maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting diagnosed early are helpful in preventing heart disease. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and alcohol consumption, controlling obesity, cutting down on excess salty food may reduce the risk of heart failure. Regular checkups and visits to a physician in case of heart disorders in the family are useful in the long run to prevent right ventricular hypertrophy.
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