There are many heart-related conditions, but one of the few overlooked ones is Left ventricular hypertrophy. Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is the abnormal broadening and thickening of the walls of the left ventricle, which is the heart’s main blood pumping chamber. LVH can be considered to be a grave condition, as it gradually builds up when the left ventricle is overworked. This implies that the left ventricle is not functioning efficiently, which in turn can lead to a series of cardiovascular illnesses.
Why is Left Ventricular Hypertrophy Bad?
Left ventricular hypertrophy should not be taken lightly. The fact that it can develop silently without being noticed makes it bad enough and that serious damage might have already been done on the left ventricle chamber. Not to mention, once the wall of the muscle has thickened and enlarged, then a series of various complications arise.
These complications, such as low blood supply and the weakening of the muscle tissue, in turn lead to poor function of the blood pumping chamber, which results in reduced blood flow or complete failure of the left ventricle. On the upside, if left ventricular hypertrophy is detected early enough and treatment applied appropriately, then the condition can be reversed. To prevent LVH, one can constantly monitor their blood pressure, maintain a healthy diet and observe a good lifestyle.
Below, you will find ways in which LVH develops as well as some of the factors associated with the illness. You’ll also find the major implications of left ventricular hypertrophy on the left ventricle chamber, its muscle and the heart itself. Also mentioned are some of the diagnostic procedures used to identify the condition and appropriate treatments adopted for patients suffering from left ventricular hypertrophy.
How Does Left Ventricular Hypertrophy Come About?
Left ventricular hypertrophy gradually develops as a result of increased workload on the heart. This is often due to some underlying factors such as hypertension, aortic stenosis and diastolic overload. Coronary artery diseases can also lead to LVH, as the normal heart muscle tissue (myocardium) attempts to step up in cases of low blood supply (ischemia) or infarct (dead) tissue. As the left ventricular is overworked due to the mentioned factors, its muscle tissue thickens and enlarges in terms of size. The impact is that the left ventricle muscle losses its elasticity and works ineffectively, as it is not able to pump blood with the required force.
Other Causes of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Age – the older you become, the higher the chances of developing left ventricular hypertrophy.
Weight – when you are overweight, or obese, the risk of LVH is higher.
Sex – in terms of gender, women are more prone to hypertension, one of the major causes of left ventricular hypertrophy compared to men.
Genetics – this is with regards to one’s genetic composition and family history of cardiovascular diseases that might result in left ventricular hypertrophy.
Resulting Risks of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Apart from the dysfunction of the left blood pumping chamber, left ventricular hypertrophy has several other risk complications that arise due to failure of working properly. The enlargement of the wall of the muscle tissue, means the wall grows weaker, hence losing its elasticity. Therefore, the chamber does not fill properly and pressure in the heart decreases, which puts a strain on the force the chamber uses to pump blood. It also leads to reduced blood supply to the heart as the chamber’s blood vessels are compressed. The heart is affected in that left ventricular hypertrophy tends to cause abnormal heart rhythm, known as arrhythmia and irregular or rapid heartbeat i.e. atrial fibrillation that reduces the amount of blood flow in the body. In the worst case scenario, left ventricular hypertrophy leads to sudden and unexpected cardiac arrest that renders the heart non-functional. The ultimate consequence is death.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Left ventricular hypertrophy can silently manifest itself without symptoms making it hard to be detected early enough. A procedural electrocardiogram or echocardiogram, can prove beneficial in that LVH can be diagnosed even when there are no signs of the condition. It also helps in identifying any other diseases a patient maybe suffering from as a result of left ventricular hypertrophy. Imaging of the heart can also be done to assess the extent of the thickening and broadening of the muscle wall tissue.
Treatment of left ventricular hypertrophy can be done by first treating the underlying condition that caused it in the first place. Depending on the condition, various treatment measures can be taken up to correct the damage caused. If the left ventricle cannot be salvaged, an implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) can be used to relieve the chamber from any stress that leads to its overworking. Otherwise, surgery may be performed on the valve to repair it, if there’s no significant damage done.
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