Enlarged heart disease or Cardiomyopathy is a common heart condition in which the heart becomes enlarged and thickens or becomes too rigid to function normally. This eventually affects the heart’s usual ability to pump blood throughout the body. This can eventually lead to heart failure or cause a severe back up of blood into the lungs and other organs. The condition is also known to lead to abnormal heart rhythms in certain cases.

The disease usually affects the lower chambers of the heart first but then moves up to the upper chambers and eventually affects the atria too.

Common causes of an enlarged heart

  • One of the most common causes of an enlarged heart is multiple blockages in the blood supply. Uncontrolled changes in blood pressure or high blood pressure may also affect the heart and lead to an enlarged heart over a period of time.
  • Viral infections of the heart may lead to enlarged heart conditions.
  • Abnormalities in the heart valve will affect the heart and eventually may lead to Cardiomyopathy.
  • In cases of pregnancy when a woman suffers from an enlarged heart developing around the time of delivery it can lead to Cardiomyopathy.
  • If a person suffers from kidney disease for several years and is on dialysis, it can eventually cause Cardiomyopathy.
  • Extreme alcohol intake or cocaine and other narcotic drug abuse can result in enlarged heart syndrome especially in middle aged adults.
  • Severe HIV infection is also a common cause of enlarged heart disease.
  • Some people may suffer as a result of genetic conditions too.

Typical symptoms of an enlarged heart

Most patients may not experience any discomfort or symptoms when they suffer from an enlarged heart. However, when the disease progresses and makes it difficult to pump blood then patients may experience several kinds of discomforts.

Constant shortness of breath even while resting, extreme swelling in the body especially on the legs or hands, increased abdominal girth, sudden weight gain with no change in appetite, extreme fatigue without indulging in any physical activity, palpitations or skipped heartbeats and similar signs are considered to be symptoms of an enlarged heart.

It is important for doctors to address the symptoms and monitor a patient through complete medical tests to identify the heart’s actual condition.

In most cases, symptoms similar to heart failure are noted in people with enlarged hearts.

What does the treatment of an enlarged heart involve?

In most cases usual treatment for an enlarged heart will involve opening and clearing the existing blockages in the blood vessels. The aim here is to improve the blood flow to the heart muscle. Once the heart’s pumping improves it may lead to a general improved condition in the heart.

Treatment also includes controlling the blood pressure in order to improve the overall heart condition and size.

Treatment also involves regular use of Diuretics because it increases urination thereby reducing the volume of blood the heart needs to pump. This lowers pressure on the heart and helps to reduce the size.

Enzyme inhibitors and Beta-Blockers are also often used to treat heart conditions like enlraged hearts.