馃挃 Cardiomegaly, or enlarged heart, what is it?

"I have an enlarged heart," a common concern in our cardiovascular clinic.

12/20/20233 min read

馃挃 Cardiomegaly, also known as an enlarged heart, is a condition in which the heart's size increases beyond normal limits. This condition can be caused by a variety of factors and may present different characteristics in each patient. In this guide, we will outline some of the most common causes and characteristics of cardiomegaly.

鉁 Several causes can contribute to the development of cardiomegaly. Some of the most frequent ones include:
- High blood pressure.
- Coronary artery disease (heart attack, coronary insufficiency).
- Heart valve disease or valvulopathies, most commonly mitral (mitral stenosis or insufficiency) and aortic (aortic stenosis or insufficiency).
- Cardiomyopathies (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, etc.). These are diseases of the heart muscle, generally with a significant genetic component, which result in alterations of its function and increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular events.
- Pericardial effusion derived from coronary disease or hypertension. It is an accumulation of fluid around the heart and is generally a sign of heart failure. Excessive accumulation can lead to a serious condition called cardiac tamponade.
- Chronic lung diseases: Some chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis, can cause additional pressure on the heart and lead to the development of cardiomegaly.
- Misdiagnosis: We include this in the list because it is frequently observed. Hence, it the important to consult a cardiology specialist who can provide a professional and objective evaluation.

The characteristics of cardiomegaly can vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the disease. In general, they produce symptoms derived from heart failure. Some of the most common characteristics include:
- Difficulty breathing: An enlarged heart can compress the lungs, making breathing difficult and causing fatigue.
- Palpitations: Irregular or rapid heartbeats can be a symptom of cardiomegaly. These heartbeats are often caused by heart rhythm disturbances, which can be serious, such as ventricular arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation.
- Fluid retention: An enlarged heart can impair efficient blood pumping, leading to fluid buildup in tissues, especially in the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Chest pain: Some patients may experience chest pain or discomfort due to additional pressure on the heart and blood vessels.
- Syncope, fainting, or dizziness: Inadequate blood flow to the brain can cause episodes of fainting or dizziness, generally derived from severe cardiac arrhythmia.

It's important to note that cardiomegaly can be a serious condition, and appropriate treatment should be sought immediately. If you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns about your heart health, it's essential to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

It's important to consult your cardiologist for a detailed clinical evaluation 馃┖ (here lies the key to diagnosis), along with a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram, blood tests, and an echocardiogram with Doppler. All of this information constitutes part of the necessary initial and general data to establish a diagnosis and indicate appropriate treatment 馃拪.

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