Enlarged Heart(Cardiomegaly): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Enlarged Heart(Cardiomegaly): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Reading Time: 4 minutes

An enlarged Heart is a heart defect in which the size of the heart becomes bigger compared to a normal one. This may happen because of the widening of chambers or the hardness of muscles. This defect can affect the functioning of the heart as the heart can’t pump blood efficiently. This in turn can lead to several complications such as cardiomyopathy, heart valve issues, high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, etc.


Some of the major causes of an enlarged heart are as follows:

Inborn Diseases:

Some people are born with congenital diseases or disorders such as the atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, narrowing of the aorta, hole in the aorta, Ebestien’s anomaly, or a combination of birth defects, etc., which can lead to dysfunction of the heart muscles and can give rise to an enlarged heart.

Ischemic Heart Disease:

It is a condition in which fats get deposited in the walls of arteries, thus preventing the blood from getting to the heart. This can put extra pressure on the heart, which will eventually lead to its disfigurement, eventually.


It is a progressive heart disease that causes the heart muscles to become weaker and unable to pump blood.

Heart Valve Disease: 

In this, the heart valves become weaker due to which blood flows in the wrong direction, making it harder for the heart to push out blood.

Thyroid Disease:

Disturbance in the production of thyroid hormones can affect the heart rate, blood pressure, and size of the heart.

Irregular Heartbeat: 

Irregularity in the heartbeat may lead to blood backflow and eventually damage the muscles.

Some other possible causes of heart enlargement are lung diseases, myocarditis, pulmonary hypertension, anemia, connective tissue, disease, drug and alcohol use, etc.

Read Also: Hole in the Heart: Causes, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment


Though an enlarged heart does not usually show symptoms, when it does, they might include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Swelling in legs and ankles caused by fluid build-up
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Symptoms that indicate a medical emergency include:

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Pain in your arms, back, neck, or jaw
  • Losing consciousness

Risk Factors

People with the following complications are at major risk of developing this defect over time:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Legacy or family history of enlarged heart
  • Prior history of heart attacks
  • Excessive use of alcohol and drug use
  • Metabolic disorders like thyroid disease

Read Also: Understanding Heart Valve Replacement for Elderly Patients


On spotting the symptoms, your doctor may run a few imaging tests or physical exams to identify the exact cause and check the structure and functioning of the symptoms.

Some of the common tests and examinations may include:

X-ray: This is done to check whether the heart has changed its shape or structure.

Electrocardiogram: This test uses electrical signals to detect any irregular heartbeat.

Echocardiogram: In this, sound waves are used to detect any problem in the heart rate.

Blood test: This is done to check for any suspicious substances in the blood which may lead to heart enlargement.

Stress Test: This test is done to monitor the heart rhythm or breathing, to check the heart functioning during exercise or in pressure situations.

CT Scan: This is used to produce detailed and precise pictures of the heart chambers and aid in the diagnosis of any disease or infection.

MRI- In this, strong magnetic radiations are used to produce heart images.

Fetal Echocardiogram:  During pregnancy, a fetal echocardiogram is done to diagnose heart defects in the fetus. This test is mostly recommended in cases with a prior history of cardiomegaly or heart defects or in case the baby has genetic disorders.


Depending on the cause of the problem, the doctor will prescribe a tailor-made treatment for you.

If the cause behind the defect is:

  • If there is High blood pressure, the doctor might advise using ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and beta blockers.
  • For irregular heartbeat, the doctor may give anti-arrhythmic drugs or go for implants such as a cardioverter defibrillator and pacemaker.
  • In case of a heart valve problem, surgical replacement may be done to fix the damaged part.
  • In case of a narrowed coronary artery, percutaneous coronary intervention, coronary artery bypass grafting, and nitrates may be performed.
  • For heart failure, diuretics, beta-blockers inotropes and in some very rare cases left ventricular assist devices may be placed.

In case the above treatments turn out to be ineffective or the condition becomes severe, then a heart transplant may be done.

Apart from all these medical treatments, one can manage these complications by following a healthy diet and making some lifestyle changes such as:

  • Exercising regularly can help in maintaining a normal lifestyle and managing complications.
  • Maintaining no nicotine routine by quitting smoking
  • Losing weight and limiting the consumption of certain food items such as salt, cholesterol and saturated and trans-fats in the diet.
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine.
  • Living a stress-free and tension-free life by doing meditation and yoga.
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables, lean poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.
  • Doing aerobics and strength exercises to improve the health of the heart.
  • Checking blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly, and consulting your doctor to lower them if they are high.
  • You should also see your doctor for regular check-ups to make sure that your heart is healthy. In case of any heart problem, consult a cardiologist.

Read Also: Heart Attack: Symptoms, Treatments & Precautions

Why is it necessary to get the treatment on time?

If left untreated or undiagnosed, heart enlargement can cause several complications such as:

  • If the left ventricle becomes enlarged, it can lead to heart failure.
  • If the blood doesn’t pump properly, it can turn into clumps or clots. These clots can travel to the brain and get stuck which may lead to brain stroke.
  • Sometimes, if the valve doesn’t close properly, it start producing murmuring sounds.
  • As enlargement hampers the functioning of the heart, it might not be able to get enough blood and leading to cardiac arrest and then sudden death.

Therefore, timely diagnosis and on-target treatment are a must to prevent any further complications.

An expert’s advice is a must as soon as the symptoms appear, instead of taking the situation into our own hands.

Meet the Best Experts for an Enlarged Heart

Dr. Alok Sehgal is a renowned cardiologist with over 20 years of experience, specializing in clinical cardiology and cardiac intervention, performing various diagnostic and interventional procedures, including angioplasties and pediatric interventions.

Dr. Yatin Arora is a Consultant in Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgery at Yashoda Hospital and Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad. Dr. Arora holds an M.Ch. from AIIMS. With extensive experience, he has contributed to publications and provided teaching and surgical assistance.

Dr. Ankur Agrawal is a Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgeon at Yashoda Hospital and Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad. Dr. Agrawal specializes in adult & pediatric cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgeries. His compassionate approach and expertise ensure optimal patient care.

Share this
Yashoda Hospital

Yashoda Hospital

Yashoda Hospital is one of the best super specialty hospitals in Ghaziabad, Noida & Delhi NCR. Yashoda Hospital aims at providing the best healthcare services across the country and not just in Delhi NCR, Ghaziabad & Noida. Being a super speciality hospital, Yashoda Hospital has a number of dedicated specialities under one roof- gastroenterology, general surgery, obstetrics & gynaecology, cardiology, pulmonology & internal medicine, orthopedics, urology and many more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *