Cardiomegaly is a condition where the heart is enlarged. This is actually not a disease but is the symptom of a condition in which various diagnostic tests are required to identify the underlying cause of this problem. Some of the heart problems associated with this include the high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, temporary stress on the body such as pregnancy, coronary artery disease or heart value problems. Early detection and management are essential to effectively treat this condition and to prevent complications.
Cardiomegaly can develop as the result of the heart pumping harder, weak heart, damage to the heart muscle or abnormal heartbeat. Some individuals may be born with a heart condition that can cause the heart to become enlarged. Some of the other causes include high blood pressure, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy (problems with the heart muscle), anemia, fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion) and thyroid disorders. Pulmonary hypertension can also develop this condition when the heart has to pump harder to deliver the blood to the lungs. Additional causes can include rare conditions that can affect the heart such as amyloidosis and the accumulation of excess iron (hemochromatosis) in the heart as the result of the body’s inability to effectively metabolize it.
The mild cases may not present any symptoms associated with cardiomegaly, however, the severe form may manifest itself presenting various signs and symptoms that can include dizziness, heart palpitations, fainting, edema in the limbs, pain in the chest region and shortness of breath. Any changes or symptoms that are associated with the heart condition should be diagnosed early for effective treatment. Individuals experiencing chest pain and severe shortness of breath should seek medical care immediately as this can be an indication of a heart attack.
In order to determine the cause of an enlarged heart, various diagnostic tests will be conducted when individuals present symptoms that are related to a heart condition. Some of the tests include a chest x-ray to assess if the heart is enlarged and the additional test may be required to confirm the cause. Electrocardiogram determines the problems with heart rhythm, echocardiogram produces images of the heart chambers which evaluates the efficiency of the heart pumping blood and if any abnormalities of the heart chambers are evident. The CT and MRI images are produced to examine the heart along with various blood tests to assess the level of certain substances that can indicate heart problems.
The treatment of enlarged heart is based on correcting the underlying problem which can consist of medications or require a surgery. Medications are used to lower the blood pressure, improve heart’s pumping ability, reducing blood clots and to assist the heart with normal rhythmic beats. Depending on the severity of the cases, surgery may be required to regulate the heartbeat with a pacemaker, heart valve surgery to replace or repair abnormal value, a coronary bypass surgery and a heart transplant in the severe case.