Mild cardiomegaly is a slight enlargement of the heart. There are five main causes of mild cardiomegaly, each with its own causes and characteristics. It is important that patients with mild cases of cardiomegaly receive treatment for the cause of the condition before it can have more damaging effects upon the heart.
Hypertrophy occurs when an organ of the body becomes enlarged due to a change in cell size. In the case of mild cardiomegaly, hypertrophy is caused by a need for the heart to pump more frequently or harder. This is a side effect of a problem with blood flow, normally chronic elevated blood pressure. If blood pressure is raised, the heart must push harder to circulate the blood through the body in order to combat against the heart, and this in turn leads to mild cardiomegaly. Because high blood pressure can have a host of other health complications in addition to cardiomegaly, it is important that medications are employed to lower blood pressure, which will relieve both the mild enlargement of the heart and any other problems.
Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Left ventricular hypertrophy, or LVH, is a form of mild cardiomegaly that affects only the left lower chamber of the heart. It is frequently caused by problems with the heart valves on the left side of the heart. The left ventricle is the area of the heart that controls most of the pumping action, and as problems with heart valves cause blood to be pushed harder to force it through the valves, the left chamber can become enlarged. Faulty heart valves typically require surgery to be corrected, which should be completed in a timely manner before the cardiomegaly can worsen.
During a heart attack, blood flow to a part of the heart is cut off by a blockage or clot. As the heart muscle is deprived of the oxygen in the blood, it can become damaged or die. Damaged heart muscle can make the heart expand or dilate. This expansion can lead to cardiomegaly. In some cases, a chest x-ray that reveals mild cardiomegaly is the first sign of minor heart attacks that have gone unnoticed by the patient.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is a condition where not enough blood is reaching the body. This can be caused by past heart attacks, narrowed arteries, high blood pressure, heart disease or infection of the heart. When the heart experiences congestive heart failure, it must pump harder to compensate for diminished blood flow. When this first occurs, it manifests through mild cardiomegaly. Fortunately, changes in diet and prescription medications can improve the conditions that cause congestive heart failure, allowing the heart to be restored to its normal size.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease that results in inflammation of the heart muscles. Cardiomyopathy can be caused by a variety of heart problems or by a viral infection. When the heart muscles become inflamed, they grow weaker, meaning that the heart must pump more often to circulate blood throughout the body. This extra pumping results in an enlargement of the heart. Surgery and medications may be used to relieve cardiomyopathy and the mild to severe cardiomegaly that it can cause.