What is Cardiomegaly?

Cardiomegaly is a condition where the heart is larger or thicker than normal.

Causes and Risk Factors of Cardiomegaly

  • Hypertension
  • Heart valve disease
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Anemia
  • Abnormal thyroid
  • Hemochromatosis (iron overload)

Cardiomegaly can also arise from:

  • Viral infections around the heart
  • Kidney diseases requiring dialysis
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
  • Genetic diseases
  • Pregnancy, especially close to giving birth

Symptoms of Cardiomegaly

Cardiomegaly might not always manifest symptoms. However, if left untreated, it can lead to heart failure symptoms. These symptoms range from mild and chronic to acute and severe. They include:

  • Fast breathing or wheezing
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness, fatigue, and weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Chest discomfort when lying prone
  • Coughing, especially during sleep

It is crucial to consult a doctor if you experience these symptoms. Early diagnosis facilitates easier treatment.

Diagnosing Cardiomegaly

Your doctor will begin with a discussion about your medical history and symptoms, followed by a physical examination. Diagnostic tests might include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Cardiac ultrasound
  • MRI or CT scans of the heart
  • Blood tests to ascertain cardiomegaly's cause
  • Biopsy

Treatment Options for Cardiomegaly


  • Diuretics: For reducing sodium and fluid in the body.
  • Blood pressure medicines: To control blood pressure and improve heart function.
  • Beta-blockers: For reducing blood pressure and enhancing heart functionality.
  • Anticoagulants: To mitigate blood clot risks.
  • Antiarrhythmic: For stabilising heart rhythm.

Surgical Procedures:

  • Heart valve surgery: Repair or replacement if cardiomegaly is due to the heart valve.
  • Bypass surgery: For cases caused by narrowed blood vessels.
  • LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device): For heart failure patients.
  • Heart transplant: A last-resort treatment.
  • Pacemaker implantation: In specific types of cardiomegaly.

Potential Complications of Cardiomegaly

Depending on the heart segment affected, complications can include:

  • Heart failure
  • Blood clots
  • Heart valve regurgitation
  • Sudden cardiac arrest or death
  • Pleural effusion and pulmonary edema

Preventing Cardiomegaly:

For prevention:

  • Discuss with your doctor any history of heart conditions in your family.
  • Engage in regular exercise at an appropriate intensity level.
  • Adhere to a nutritious, balanced diet.
  • Manage stress and prioritise mental health.
  • Abstain from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Schedule yearly health checkups.

Cardiomegaly is treatable, especially if detected early. Regular health evaluations can aid in early detection and effective treatment, tailored to individual health conditions and symptoms.