[toc]An increase in the heart’s size is referred as cardiac enlargement or enlarged heart that may be caused by dilation or hypertrophy of the heart or occurrence of both at the same time. Hypertrophy increases the thickness of muscles of the heart and dilation involves the increase in size of the inner portion of the chamber of the heart.
Though, hypertrophy occurs only in one of the chamber, but dilation can occur simultaneously in 1 or 2 or 3 or all 4 chambers of the heart, depending upon the cause of it. Except during aerobic exercises, enlarged heart is an abnormal change of the body that is usually accompanied by associated heart and vascular problems.
Only under regular aerobic exercises, the enlargement of heart is considered beneficial and it involves both dilation and hypertrophy of the heart.There can be many conditions or factors responsible for an enlarged heart that can either damage the muscles of the heart or makes it more troublesome for the heart to pump blood to different parts of the body.
5 Important Causes Of Enlarged Heart
Arrhythmia (Abnormal Heartbeat)
In case of abnormal heartbeats, the blood is not pumped effectively and heart finds it harder to perform its pumping role. There is an extra load over the heart muscles, causing them to get extended and enlarged, in order to improve blood supply to different regions of the body. Over the period of time, in arrhythmic patients, this results into enlargement of the heart.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure causes it hard for the heart to pump out blood, thereby increasing the thickness and enlargement of the heart muscles. High blood pressure, particularly in arteries linking lung and heart (pulmonary hypertension) even makes it worse for the heart to function.
In order to perform its function properly, the heart tends to get enlarged. Hypertension is the common cause for left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH).
Heart Valve Deterioration
Four valves are involved for proper flow of blood in and out of the heart. When these valves get damaged due to disorder like rheumatic fever, infectious endocarditis, connective tissue disorder, a heart defect and specific cancer medications and treatments, it leads to enlargement of heart.
Cardiomyopathy is the disease of heart muscle, where the muscle gets stiffened and thickens. This condition usually does not show any symptoms in early stages, but as the disease deteriorates, it leads to enlarged heart in order to pump out more of the blood and is referred as Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
It is a genetic disease where the heart muscles are weak due to their genetic makeup. It occurs in one out of 500 people and a common cause of death in aspiring young athletes.
Reduce Count Of Red Blood Cells
During anemia, the red blood cells are not present in adequate amounts and hence, the oxygen supply is not efficiently met. When anemia is left untreated, it results in a chronic state that may lead to irregular and rapid heartbeats to suffice the oxygen demands of the body. Prolonged period of anemic state will cause the heart to get enlarged gradually in absence of any medical treatment.
In addition to above causes, even a congenital heart defect, a heart attack and inactive or an overactive thyroid may result into heart problems that gradually cause the heart to get enlarged.