An enlarged heart is a very common symptom of cardiac disease. It is not actually a disease condition but, as stated earlier, a symptom. The medical term for an enlarged heart is cardiomegaly. The causes for an enlarged heart are varied, and they will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

An enlarged heart can be caused by an infection, high blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmias, conditions involving the heart valves, and even stress. Other causes that are not related to cardiac disease can be pregnancy, thyroid conditions, hemochromatosis, and amyloidosis.

In the instances where a cardiac condition is involved, the heart will be taking on too much work, thus resulting in enlargement. Your heart is a very strong muscle that pumps an approximate 2,000 gallons of blood daily. Imagine the power that will require. Now, cardiac conditions might cause your heart to use more force than what is normally needed just so it can pump out the blood. These conditions will be causing the onset of cardiomegaly. You can almost liken it to a well-exercised bicep. The more weight you use during your workouts, the bigger it gets. So just like with the heart, the more force it uses, the bigger the heart becomes. However, when biceps become bigger, that is considered a good thing. With the heart, it is not. There are a lot of complications that can result from untreated cardiomegaly. Based on the symptoms alone, we cannot accurately conclude if the patient is really suffering from cardiomegaly or not. Its symptoms are nonspecific and can be caused by any other conditions. The best way to conclude if it is truly cardiomegaly would be to undergo a series of diagnostic procedures.

The following are some of the most common procedures performed on a patient suspected of having cardiomegaly:

• Chest X-ray

In this procedure, the outline of the heart is well defined. Doctors have specific ways to measure the size of your heart depending on your age, gender, height, and weight. To get a rough estimate, you can compare it to the size if your fist.

• Electrocardiogram

This test records the electrical activity of your heart. Doctors will be able to pinpoint a specific problem just by basing it on your QRS complex or your ECG tracing.

• Echocardiogram

This can be likened to an ultrasound of your heart and is considered to be one of the most accurate ways to diagnose cardiomegaly. In an echocardiogram, you doctor will be able to visualize your heart as a whole, its four chambers, its different valves, and its pumping action. It can even determine if you have ever suffered from a previous heart attack.

Complications that can stem from an enlarged heart will be: heart failure, blood clots, cardiac arrest, and even death. Again, cardiomegaly is not a disease but a symptom. A diagnosis of having cardiomegaly will mean you will have to have the underlying condition treated to prevent the aforementioned complications. In the case of heart valve conditions, you may need to have heart valve surgery to correct it. In the case of high blood pressure, you will need to undergo pharmacological treatment to keep your blood pressure controlled.

Conditions involving the heart are always serious. It is best to get regular checkups to spot the disease in its early stages and have the condition treated as soon as possible.

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For more information on Different Types of Diseases, Symptoms and Diagnoses, Please visit: Heart Valve Surgery and Enlarged Heart.