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Enlarged heart can develop due to factors such as pregnancy, weak heart muscles (Cardiomyopathy), arrhythmia, or it could be a symptom of an underlying heart ailment such as coronary artery disease. An enlarged heart results when the heart fails to pump the required amount of oxygenated blood.
Symptoms include, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, abnormal heart rhythms, edema, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing. It can lead to complications such as heart murmur, blood clots, heart failure, and cardiac arrest which can even lead to sudden death. Those at high risk include people with high blood pressure, those who have suffered a heart attack, people with coronary artery disease or congenital heart disease, and individuals with a family history of cardiomyopathy.
This condition can be treated using medical procedures or using certain drugs. Treatment usually involves rectifying the underlying medical complication. Here are some tips on what to eat, what to avoid, and any lifestyle changes that may improve your condition if you are suffering from cardiomegaly.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Restrict your daily consumption to 2,000 mg/day. Excess sodium in the body leads to edema and causes fluid retention in limbs and can cause shortness of breath. This makes the heart pump twice as harder. Cut back on salted foods like hotdogs, cheese, crackers, salted nuts, smoked/canned beef and meat products, and frozen dinners like pizzas and pastas. Include potassium-rich foods in your diet (green leafy vegetables, grapes, tomatoes, bananas) to negate the harmful effects of sodium on high blood pressure. Low-sodium diet includes foods like fresh meat and poultry, eggs, milk, low-sodium cheese. It is best to eat home-cooked meals when cutting back on sodium, so you know exactly how much salt has been added to the food. Instead, use herb seasonings, or lemon and orange zest to add that extra flavor to your dishes.
Limit your Fat Intake
Use unsaturated and low-cholesterol fats. Strictly avoid any food that contains trans fats. Fast-food chains use large quantities of trans fats (derived from partially hydrogenated oils) in their dishes. They raise levels of bad cholesterol and reduce the good cholesterol. Eating excess fats results in obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Decrease your fat consumption by sticking to a low-fat diet. Refrain from eating fries, potato chips, cakes, muffins, etc. Look for the low-fat or fat-free label whenever you buy any processed foods. Milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream all have low-fat or fat-free versions. Instead of deep-fried, try the grilled, baked or steamed version of the same dish. It might taste better and is undoubtedly a healthier option. But limiting your fat consumption does not mean eliminating fats from your diet altogether. Be sure to include foods rich in omega-3 and unsaturated fatty acids, like mackerel, salmon, olives, flax seeds, nuts, canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, soybeans, to name a few. These fats are essential to the body as they aid in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. Choose low-fat protein foods over protein-rich fatty foods. Have skinless chicken, egg whites, lean ground meat and skimmed milk instead of fried meat, spare ribs, cold cuts, egg yolks, and whole-fat milk.
Eat Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables
Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in abundance. They have little sodium or fat content and pack in a whole bunch of nutrients and fiber, important for a healthy heart. When you have the urge to snack, pick a fruit instead of items like popcorn, muffin, biscuits, or crackers.
Control Diabetes
Diabetic individuals are at a greater risk of developing an enlarged heart. Control your blood sugar levels and include foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as barley, oats, legumes, and bran.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and blood fats (triglycerides), increasing your chances of developing heart complications. Consume alcohol in moderate quantities, not more than one drink a day.
A few other changes like giving up smoking, regular exercise, getting rid of excess flab, and maintaining a regular sleep cycle will also play a vital role in decreasing the dangers posed by an enlarged heart. Altering your diet and lifestyle by making certain enhancements can improve heart health. You do not need to totally deprive yourself of the foods you love, but have everything in moderation and keep a tab on what you eat.