Cardiomegaly is another word for this sign or symptom that may be caused by certain heart conditions or even pregnancy. Know how it's treated.
An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) isn't a disease, but rather a sign of another condition.
The term "cardiomegaly" refers to an enlarged heart seen on any imaging test, including a chest X-ray. Other tests are then needed to diagnose the condition that's causing the enlarged heart.
Heart damage and certain types of heart disease can cause an enlarged heart. Sometimes short-term stress on the body, such as pregnancy, can cause the heart to get larger. Depending on the condition, an enlarged heart may be temporary or permanent.
Treatment for an enlarged heart may include medications, medical procedures or surgery.
If the heart weakens, as it can with heart failure, it begins to enlarge. This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.
In some people, an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) causes no signs or symptoms. Others may have these signs and symptoms of cardiomegaly:
An enlarged heart may be easier to treat when it's detected early. Talk to your health care provider if you have concerns about your heart.
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have signs and symptoms of a potential heart attack:
An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) can be caused by damage to the heart muscle or any condition that makes the heart pump harder than usual, including pregnancy. Sometimes the heart gets larger and becomes weak for unknown reasons. This condition is called idiopathic cardiomyopathy.
Conditions associated with an enlarged heart include:
Things that can increase the risk of an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) include:
The risk of complications from an enlarged heart depends on the part of the heart affected and the cause. Complications of an enlarged heart can include:
Tell your health care provider if anyone in your family has or had cardiomyopathy or other health conditions that caused an enlarged heart. When diagnosed early, proper treatment of the underlying condition may prevent the enlarged heart from getting worse.
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent or manage some conditions that can lead to an enlarged heart. Take these steps to help prevent an enlarged heart:
To diagnose an enlarged heart, a health care provider will usually do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history.
Tests that may be done to help diagnose an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy) and its cause include:
Cardiac CT scan or MRI. During a cardiac CT scan, you usually lie on a table inside a doughnut-shaped machine. An X-ray tube inside the machine rotates around your body and collects images of your heart and chest.
In a cardiac MRI, you typically lie on a table inside a long tubelike machine that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce signals that create images of your heart.
Treatment of an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) depends on what is causing the heart problem.
If cardiomyopathy or another type of heart condition is the cause of an enlarged heart, a health care provider may recommend medications, including:
If medications aren't enough to treat an enlarged heart, medical devices and surgery may be needed.
Surgery or other procedures to treat an enlarged heart may include:
If you have an enlarged heart or any type of heart disease, your health care provider will likely recommend following a heart-healthy lifestyle. Such a lifestyle typically includes:
If you think you may have an enlarged heart or are worried about your heart disease risk because of your family history, make an appointment with your health care provider. You may be referred to doctor trained in heart diseases (cardiologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
Making a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your health care provider. For an enlarged heart or heart disease, some basic questions to ask your health care provider include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
Your health care provider is likely to ask you questions, including: