An enlarged heart, also called cardiomegaly, usually results from another condition such as heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms or temporary conditions that stress the heart like pregnancy. An enlarged heart is generally treatable but can result in serious and sometimes fatal complications without treatment.
The heart may become enlarged because of an increased workload due to high blood pressure, heart valve disease, a heart defect, a thyroid condition, anemia, a heart arrhythmia, heart attack or cardiomyopathy.
While not everyone experiences symptoms of cardiomegaly, those who do report shortness of breath, dizziness, coughing and heart arrhythmias.
Complications and Death
An enlarged heart can increase your risk of deadly blood clots and cardiac arrest. An enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle can lead to heart failure when the weakened heart muscle and stretched ventricles cannot pump blood efficiently.
A doctor can diagnose an enlarged heart with the use of an X-ray, CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), echocardiogram, electrocardiogram or a blood test.
Treatment is essential for preventing complications and death from an enlarged heart. A doctor can prescribe medication, especially if your condition is due to a weakened heart. Heart surgery or the implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator in the chest may be necessary in certain situations.