A figurative “big heart” connotes that someone is kind and generous. But a literal “big heart” is not a good thing, especially to people in the medical profession. People often mistake this as a disease, however, doctors say that this is an underlying problem to certain cardiovascular conditions.
Cardiomegaly is a medical condition where the size of the heart becomes enlarged. This abnormal enlargement exceeds the cardio-thoracic ratio of more than 0.50. A person’s cardio-thoraric ratio determines which size a person’s heart is supposed to be, this makes the normal heart size difficult to exact as everybody has a different cardio-thoracic ratio.
For most people, an enlarged heart will not manifest any signs or symptoms from the condition, however, some people do manifest symptoms. Symptoms depend on the severity of the case of the patient. Most commonly, these symptoms are associated to the heart’s inability to pump enough blood properly, these include:
lArrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
Heart enlargement is not an easy thing to diagnose. Physicians usually suggest for patients to undergo a series of testing to determine if they do have cardiomegaly. These battery of tests include:
lElectro Cardio Gram (ECG)
What causes heart enlargement?
As what was mentioned, heart enlargement is not a disease on its own, but rather an indication of an underlying condition. Cardiomegaly may be caused by thickening of cardiac muscles, ventricular hypertrophy, and exercise.
Cardiomegaly is said to be a result of thickening of the heart muscles that occurs when the heart has an increase in its workload. The increased workload is most often caused by other health conditions present in the body. Some of the noted conditions that may cause of heart enlargement includes:
lHigh blood pressure
lHeart valve disorders
lHemochromatosis (excessive iron in the body)
lAmyloidosis (abnormal protein build-up in an organ)
Exercise is also a contributory factor for heart enlargement. Athletes have been said to have bigger hearts. But this is a result of their extensive training, and is not in any way an indication of the presence of a medical condition. In this one instance, cardiomegaly is not considered a bad thing.
Heart enlargement may also becaused by ventricular hypertrophy. In this case, the left or the right ventricle, in some cases both, become enlarged. This condition is more common for people who have chronic systolic heart failure or cardiomyopathies. Cardiomyopathy is the loss of strength of cardiac muscles.
How is cardiomegaly treated?
Treatment depends on the severity of the cardiomegaly. It is most often a medication or treatment procedure related to the underlying condition. Diuretics have been used to enhance serous fluid output in the body, to prevent heart swelling. ACE inhibitors and Beta-blockers are used to treat underlying cardiovascular conditions that may have contributed to the enlargement of the heart.
As you are reading this, more research is being conducted to come up with a more effective treatment for cardiomegaly. The aim of these research is to completely do away with cardiomegaly, as well as the conditions associated with it. And hopefully, soon enough, a cure will be introduced to the market.