Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Enlarged Heart Overview

What is an enlarged heart?
A person with an enlarged heart often has enlargement that is secondary to underlying heart disease. In most cases, an enlarged heart does not pump blood as effectively as a normal-sized heart. An enlarged heart results from illnesses that damage the heart muscle or heart valves. Examples of conditions that can trigger an enlarged heart include heart attack, diabetes, valvular heart disease, cirrhosis, and high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of an enlarged heart?
A person with a mildly enlarged heart may not have symptoms. Symptoms of an enlarged heart may include: chest pain, anorexia, excessive fatigue with activity, leg swelling, urinary frequency, wheezing, shortness of breath lying flat, and waking up with shortness of breath.

How does the doctor treat an enlarged heart?
Treatment for an enlarged heart depends on the underlying cause. Treatment for an enlarged heart may include stop smoking, heart diet, low cholesterol diet, low salt diet, an exercise plan, weight reduction, and fluid restriction. Medications to treat an enlarged heart may include diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, aspirin, and potassium supplements.

Continue to Enlarged Heart Risk Factors

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Enlarged Heart References
  1. Arola A, Tuominen J, Ruuskanen O, Jokinen E: Idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy in children: prognostic indicators and outcome. Pediatrics 1998 Mar; 101(3 Pt 1): 369-76. [9480999]
  2. Burkett EL, Hershberger RE. Clinical and genetic issues in familial dilated cardiomyopathy. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005 Apr 5;45(7):969-81. [15808750]
  3. Elliott P: Cardiomyopathy. Diagnosis and management of dilated cardiomyopathy. Heart 2000 Jul; 84(1): 106-12. [10862601]
  4. Gosse P. Left ventricular hypertrophy as a predictor of cardiovascular risk. J Hypertens Suppl. 2005 Apr;23 Suppl 1:S27-33. [15821448]
  5. Verdecchia P, Angeli F. Reversal of left ventricular hypertrophy: what have recent trials taught us? Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2004;4(6):369-78. [15554722]
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