An enlarged heart or cardiomegaly is not a disease but symptom of another condition. An enlarged heart can develop temporarily due to stress of the body from pregnancy or medical conditions such as heart valve problems and coronary artery disease.
Symptoms of an enlarged heart
- Abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling or edema
- Chest pain
- Discomfort in other parts of the upper body such as back, neck, arms, stomach and the jaw.
- High blood pressure. The heart pumps harder to deliver blood to the rest the body causing enlargement and thickening of the muscles.
- Heart valve disease. If the valves are damaged due to rheumatic fever, infection, heart defects and connective disorders, it causes an enlarged heart.
- Cardiomyopathy causes thickening and stiffening of the heart muscles.
- Fluid around the heart or pericardial effusion
- Anemia or low blood cell count
- Thyroid disorders
- Hemochromatosis or excessive content of iron in the body
- Amyloidosis or abnormal amounts of proteins circulating in the blood and deposited in the heart.
- Quit smoking. Chemicals found in tobacco can damage the blood cells and affect the functioning of the blood vessels and the heart. This can result to atherosclerosis which involves the accumulation of plaque in the arteries.
- Avoid being overweight to prevent an enlarged heart. Excessive weight causes thickening of the muscle of the heart in the left ventricle and result to heart conditions. Maintain a healthy diet to lose weight.
- Avoid being stressed to prevent the condition from worsening while still in the recovery stage.
- Minimize intake of sodium in the diet to prevent development of edema which is the common causes of an enlarged heart. Excess sodium can also cause breathing problems and makes the heart work harder. Consume low sodium foods that include corn, milk, fresh meat, cream cheese, eggs and dried fruits.
- Maintain normal level of blood sugar.
- Maintain normal blood pressure
- Perform regular exercises especially when overweight to prevent enlargement of the heart. Exercises keep the body stronger and healthy.
- Reduce alcohol consumption to prevent increase in the blood pressure and the risk of developing heart conditions such as an enlarged heart.
- Get enough sleep at least 8 hours every day.