Cardiomegaly: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors and Treatment

It is a descriptive term that refers to the physical finding of an enlarged heart and is not a disease in itself.

Cardiomegaly can be caused by several different conditions, including diseases of the heart muscle or heart valves, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and pulmonary hypertension.

Sometimes it can also accompany longstanding anemia and thyroid disease, among other conditions.

Treatment and prognosis depend on the underlying cause.

It is also known as an enlarged heart.


When a doctor discovers that a patient has cardiomegaly, that patient will have one of three different types of an enlarged heart.


The first type of cardiomegaly occurs when the heart muscle weakens, and the enlarged chambers of the heart dilate.


Although enlarging the heart chambers is a crucial aspect of dilated cardiomegaly, this is not the main problem.

This enlarged type of heart affects all parts of a person’s myocardium. This type of cardiomegaly will cause the patient to go into heart failure .


The second type of cardiomegaly is known as hypertrophic cardiomegaly.

This happens when there is an overgrowth of the heart muscle, making blood flow in and out of a person’s heart difficult.

People with this disease have an abnormal growth of the fibers of their heart muscle, which makes the chambers of your heart bulky and the walls very thick.

It is often the septum of the heart, which is between the left and right ventricles, which is enlarged so that both sides are not even.

Although the left ventricle can be contracted, often, the patient’s brain and other vital organs do not get the amount of blood they need because blood gets trapped in the heart when contractions occur.


The last type of enlarged heart is the least common type, known as restrictive.

It usually occurs when the heart is infiltrated with things that are not normal or with any of the other types of fibrous processes that are chronic.

When this happens, the patient’s heart can not expand enough to fill with blood and can not contract enough so that the lungs can get enough blood to oxygenate, and the other tissues do not get the average amount of blood they are. accustomed

Cardiomegaly is something that a doctor, usually a cardiologist, will discover through tests ( Electrocardiogram ).


The symptoms of cardiomegaly depend on the cause.

Sometimes, an enlarged heart does not cause any symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • An irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles: caused by fluid accumulation (edema).
  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.

Symptoms that indicate a medical emergency include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Problems with catching your breath.
  • Pain in the arms, back, neck, or jaw.
  • Fainting.

Some people may never have symptoms. Others may have minor symptoms that do not change for years.

Others may have difficulty breathing that gets a little worse over the years.


Your heart may get more extensive due to a condition you are born with (congenital) or a heart problem that develops over time.

Any illness that makes your heart work harder to pump blood through your body can cause an enlarged heart.

Just as the muscles in your arms and legs get more significant when you work them, your heart gets more prominent when you work it.

The most common causes of an enlarged heart are ischemic heart disease and high blood pressure.

Ischemic heart disease occurs when narrowed arteries, caused by deposits of fat that accumulate in the arteries, prevent blood from reaching the heart.

Some other possible causes of an enlarged heart include:


Cardiomyopathy is progressive heart disease with several types. The diseases that damage the heart muscle can make it enlarge.

The more damage occurs, the weaker and less able to pump the heart becomes.

Heart valve disease:

Infections, connective tissue diseases, and some medications can damage the valves that keep blood flowing in the right direction through your heart.

When the blood flows back, the heart must work harder to drive it out.

Heart attack:

During a heart attack, blood flow to a part of the heart is completely blocked. The lack of oxygen-rich blood damages the heart muscle.

Thyroid disease:

The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism.

Both hyperproduction ( hyperthyroidism ) and the underproduction ( hypothyroidism ) of these hormones can affect heart rate, blood pressure, and heart size.

Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia):

If you have an irregular heartbeat, instead of beating in your familiar lub-dub pattern, your heart beats or beats too slowly or quickly.

An irregular heartbeat can cause blood to back up in the heart and eventually damage the muscle.

Congenital conditions:

The enlarged congenital heart is a cardiac disorder with which one is born. Congenital heart defects that cause this symptom include:

  • Atrial septal defect: a hole in the wall that separates the heart’s two upper chambers.
  • Ventricular septal defect: a hole in the wall that separates the heart’s two lower chambers.
  • Coarctation of the aorta: a narrowing of the aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
  • Patent ductus arteriosus: a hole in the aorta.
  • Ebstein’s anomaly: a problem with the valve separating the two right heart chambers (atrium and ventricle).
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF): a combination of congenital disabilities that interrupt the normal flow of blood through the heart.

Risk factor’s

You are more likely to have cardiomegaly if you are at risk for heart disease.

Some people are at a higher risk of developing cardiomegaly due to certain factors, such as:

  • Family history of heart disease: if the patient has a family member with a heart problem, an enlarged heart, and cardiomyopathy, he or she has an increased risk of developing an enlarged heart.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Studies have shown that having a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of heart problems, including cardiomegaly.
  • Hypertension: people with high blood pressure can put them at risk of developing cardiomegaly.
  • Congenital heart disease: people born with the condition that affects the structures of the heart are at an increased risk of having an enlarged heart.
  • Coronary artery disease: Having blocked arteries in the heart can predispose a patient to develop an enlarged heart. This condition is characterized by the deposition of fatty plaques in the arteries, which obstruct blood flow through the vessels of the heart.
  • Heart valve disease: if you have a problem with the heart’s four valves, it could cause cardiomegaly.


The underlying condition will need treatment, including medications, medical procedures, or even surgery (although these cases are rare).