Cardiomegaly - Enlarged Heart Symptoms Causes and Treatment

The term “cardiomegaly” most commonly refers to an enlarged heart seen on chest X-ray before other tests are performed to diagnose the specific condition causing your cardiomegaly. You may develop an enlarged heart temporarily because of a stress on your body, such as pregnancy, or because of a medical condition, such as the weakening of the heart muscle, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems or abnormal heart rhythms. While having an enlarged heart may not always be preventable, it’s usually treatable.

All About Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

Symptoms of Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

In some people, an enlarged heart causes no signs or symptoms. Others may have these signs and symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
  • Swelling (edema)
  • Cough
  • Chest pain

Dizziness - Enlarged Heart Cardiomegaly

Seek emergency medical care if you have any of these signs and symptoms, which may mean you’re having a heart attack:

  • Chest pain
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Fainting

Chest pain - Enlarged Heart Cardiomegaly

Causes of Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

An enlarged heart can be caused by conditions that cause your heart to pump harder than usual or that damage your heart muscle. Sometimes the heart enlarges and becomes weak for unknown reasons (idiopathic). Conditions associated with an enlarged heart include:

1. High blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can make it so that your heart has to pump harder to deliver blood to the rest of your body, enlarging and thickening the muscle.

2. Heart valve disease. Four valves within your heart keep blood flowing in the right direction. If the valves are damaged by such conditions as rheumatic fever, a heart defect, infections (infectious endocarditis), connective tissue disorders, certain medications or radiation treatments for cancer, your heart may enlarge.

Enlarged Heart Cardiomegaly

3. Disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). Cardiomyopathy is the thickening and stiffening of heart muscle. In early stages of cardiomyopathy, you may have no symptoms. As the condition worsens, your heart may enlarge to try to pump more blood to your body.

4. Heart attack. Damage done during a heart attack may cause an enlarged heart.

5. A heart condition you’re born with (conprivate part heart defect). Many types of conprivate part heart defects may lead to an enlarged heart, as defects can affect blood flow through the heart, forcing it to pump harder.

6. Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia). If you have an arrhythmia, your heart may not pump blood as effectively as it would if your heart rhythm were normal. The extra work your heart has to do to pump blood to your body may cause it to enlarge.

7. High blood pressure in the artery connecting your heart and lungs (pulmonary hypertension). If you have pulmonary hypertension, your heart may need to pump harder to move blood between your lungs and your heart. As a result, the right side of your heart may enlarge.

8. Low red blood cell count (anemia). Anemia is a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues. Left untreated, chronic anemia can lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Your heart must pump more blood to make up for the lack of oxygen in the blood when you’re anemic. Rarely, your heart can enlarge if you have anemia for a long time and you don’t seek treatment.

Low red blood cell count anemia - Enlarged Heart Cardiomegaly

9. Thyroid disorders. Both an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) and an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can lead to heart problems, including an enlarged heart.

10. Excessive iron in the body (hemochromatosis). Hemochromatosis is a disorder in which your body doesn’t properly metabolize iron, causing it to build up in various organs, including your heart muscle. This can cause an enlarged left ventricle due to weakening of the heart muscle.

11. Rare diseases that can affect your heart, such as amyloidosis. Amyloidosis is a condition in which abnormal proteins circulate in the blood and may be deposited in the heart, interfering with your heart’s function. If amyloid builds up in your heart, it can cause it to enlarge.

What are basic types of Heart Failure?

what is systolic diastolic heart failure

Diastolic heart failure

Diastolic heart failure means the lower left chamber of the heart (left ventricle) is not able to fill properly with blood during the diastolic phase, reducing the amount of blood pumped out to the body.

Systolic heart failure

Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), also called systolic failure: The left ventricle loses its ability to contract normally. The heart can’t pump with enough force to push enough blood into circulation.

Treatments and Drugs for Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

Treatments for enlarged heart focus on correcting the underlying cause.


If cardiomyopathy or another type of heart condition is to blame for your enlarged heart, your doctor may recommend medications. These may include:

1. Diuretics to lower the amount of sodium and water in your body, which can help lower the pressure in your arteries and heart, such as furosemide (Lasix), or other diuretics, such as spironolactone (Aldactone), which can help prevent further scarring of your heart tissue

2. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to lower your blood pressure and improve your heart’s pumping capability, such as enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Zestril), ramipril (Altace) or captopril (Capoten) Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), such as losartan (Cozaar) and valsartan (Diovan), for those who can’t take ACE inhibitors

3. Beta blockers to lower blood pressure and improve heart function, such as carvedilol (Coreg) and metoprolol (Lopressor)

4. Digoxin, which can help improve the pumping function of your heart and lessen the need for hospitalization for heart failure

5. Anticoagulants, such as warfarin (Coumadin), to reduce the risk of blood clots that could cause a heart attack or stroke Medical procedures and surgeries If medications aren’t enough to treat your enlarged heart, medical procedures or surgery may be necessary.

Anticoagulants - Enlarged Heart Cardiomegaly6. Medical devices to regulate your heartbeat. For people who have a certain type of enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy), a special pacemaker that coordinates the contractions between the left and right ventricle (biventricular pacing) may be necessary. In people who may be at risk of serious arrhythmias, drug therapy or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be an option. ICDs are small devices — about the size of a pager — implanted in your chest to continuously monitor your heart rhythm and deliver electrical shocks when needed to control abnormal, rapid heartbeats. The devices can also work as pacemakers. If the main cause of your enlarged heart is due to atrial fibrillation, then you may need procedures to return your heart to regular rhythm or to keep your heart from beating too quickly.

7. Heart valve surgery. If your enlarged heart is caused by a problem with one of your heart valves, you may have surgery to remove the narrow valve and replace it with either an artificial valve or a tissue valve from a pig, cow or human-cadaver donor. If you have valve regurgitation, in which blood leaks backward through your valve, the leaky valve may be surgically repaired or replaced.

8. Coronary bypass surgery. If your enlarged heart is related to coronary artery disease, your doctor may recommend coronary artery bypass surgery.

9. Left ventricular assist device (LVAD). If you have heart failure, you may need this implantable mechanical pump to help your weakened heart pump. You may have an LVAD implanted while you wait for a heart transplant or as a long-term treatment if you have heart failure and you’re not a good candidate for a heart transplant. 10. Heart transplant. If medications can’t control your symptoms, a heart transplant may be a final option. Because of the shortage of donor hearts, even people who are critically ill may have a long wait before having a heart transplant.

Foods for Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

foods for Enlarged Heart Cardiomegaly

Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

While you can’t cure your enlarged heart with home remedies, there are some things you can do to improve your condition. Your doctor may recommend adopting the following lifestyle changes:

1. Quit smoking.
2. Lose excess weight.
3. Eat a low-salt diet.
4. Control diabetes.
5. Monitor your own blood pressure.
6. Get modest exercise, after discussing with your doctor the
most appropriate program of physical activity.
7. Eliminate or reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
8. Try to sleep eight hours each night.

quit smoking - Enlarged Heart Cardiomegaly

Prevention for Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)

In most cases you can’t prevent your heart from enlarging. Let your doctor know if you have a family history of conditions that can cause an enlarged heart, such as cardiomyopathy. If cardiomyopathy or other heart conditions are diagnosed early, treatments may prevent the disease from worsening.

You can help reduce your chance of developing heart failure by avoiding some of the conditions that can contribute to a weak heart, including the abuse of alcohol or cocaine, or not getting enough vitamins and minerals. Controlling high blood pressure with diet, exercise and possibly medications also prevents many people who have an enlarged heart from developing heart failure later in life.

Controlling risk factors for coronary artery disease — tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — helps to reduce your risk of an enlarged heart and heart failure by reducing your risk of heart attack.

What are Home Remedies for an Enlarged Heart?

Green Tea for the Enlarged Heart treatment

The polyphenols found in green tea are reported to help improve the heart health. The antioxidants in green tea help in reducing the LDL cholesterol which is one of the reasons behind several heart disorders. Green tea also helps prevent the accumulation of plaque in the artery walls, thus reducing the risks of heart disorders and high blood pressure. Hence, it is considered beneficial in treating an enlarged heart. Consume around 2-3 cups of green tea to keep your heart healthy.

Peppermint for effective blood flow

Peppermint leaves are effective in reducing the risks of high blood pressure. So, people having an enlarged heart along with hypertension must include peppermint leaves in their diet. You can consume a warm peppermint decoction regularly for best results. You can even use dried or powdered form of mint leaves to prepare this solution.

Garlic for treatment of big heart

Garlic contains pain relieving and anti-inflammatory compounds that help in treating an enlarged heart. Garlic helps in lowering the LDL cholesterol levels in the body which can further impact your heart health. Garlic also helps in enhancing blood circulation. It helps in stabilizing the blood pressure levels which is one of the major causes of heart disorders. So, chew 2-3 garlic cloves regularly for a healthy heart.

Asparagus for an enlarged heart  treatment

Asparagus contains lots of nutrients that are beneficial for the people who are already having an enlarged heart. Mix two parts of asparagus juice to one part of honey. Consume this mixture three times every day. It helps in strengthening your heart. So, include it in your diet for best results.

Lemon Juice for treating heart enlargement

Drinking lemon juice regularly can control the risks of developing hypertension. It makes the capillary walls become strong, thus lessening the risks of any heart disorders caused due to an enlarged heart. Squeeze a lemon in a glass of water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to it. Consume it regularly for best results.

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