The condition of an enlarged heart is also referred to as cardiomegaly. It results from weakening of the heart muscle. The function of the heart muscle is to pump out blood and oxygen throughout the body. It is a huge workload for the heart muscle as it pumps out about 2000 gallons of blood per day. When it becomes weak or gets damaged for some reason, it has to work very hard to maintain the blood flow throughout the body. When it is unable to carry out this work properly, then the heart muscle gets enlarged. Some symptoms of an enlarged heart are breathing difficulty, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, chest pain, cough and so on.

Risk Factors for an Enlarged Heart

The heart may get enlarged temporarily when the body is stressed out. Similar change can be observed after heavy exercising but the heart returns to normal after the training is stopped. An enlarged heart during pregnancy is a common occurrence and it gets back to normal after the birth of the child. However, when an enlarged heart is a chronic condition, then it is a cause of concern. Some common health conditions that can lead to this condition are as follows:
  • Those with blood pressure reading above 140/90 tend to develop an enlarged heart. Under high blood pressure, the heart muscle needs to put extra amount of pressure to pump out the blood. As result, it becomes tensed and weak.
  • One may develop an enlarged heart after suffering a heart attack. This happens in those cases where the heart attack has caused a rupture in the heart muscle. This kind of damage makes it difficult to pump out blood properly.
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat is a condition where the contractions of the heart muscle do not follow the normal rhythm and it is either too fast or too slow. In such a condition, the heart muscle cannot pump out the blood effectively.
  • Coronary artery disease results from plaque deposit on the walls of the coronary arteries that carries blood to the heart. This disease affects normal blood supply to the heart and may cause a heart attack. In this condition, pumping out adequate amount of blood becomes difficult.
  • Some people are born with some structural defects in the heart which may cause an enlarged heart in the later stage of life. This occurs when the congenital heart disease is left untreated.
  • The problem of an enlarged heart may run in the family. It is often found in those people who have members in the family like parents or siblings with the same problem.
  • When a person is suffering from anemia, then there is a decrease in the level of oxygen in the blood. Due to lack of oxygen in the blood, more amount of blood has to be pumped out to meet the oxygen requirement of the body.
  • Obesity contributes towards this problem in a big way. A person with a big body has a higher volume of blood which the heart muscle has to pump out regularly. This increases the workload of the heart muscle and makes it weaken.
  • Heart valve disease or diseases affecting the heart muscle can be responsible for enlarged heart. Thyroid disorder, smoking, stress, sedentary lifestyle are a few other non cardiac problems that can cause an enlarged heart.
Now that you have learned about the risk factors, you should not assume that all those people who have any of these health conditions will certainly develop an enlarged heart at any point of time or the other. Similarly, it cannot be said that those who do not have any of these health problems will not get an enlarged heart. In fact, there are many people who got this condition without the presence of any of these risk factors. Moreover, an enlarged heart is a treatable condition and its treatment becomes easier if the underlying cause is identified correctly.