Cardiomegaly or Enlarged Heart

Chest | Cardiology | Cardiomegaly or Enlarged Heart (Symptom)


Cardiomegaly is a descriptive term that is used to refer to the physical finding of an enlarged heart and is not a disease itself. Cardiomegaly may take the form of hypertrophy (thickening) of the heart muscle or of dilatation (increase in volume) of one or more of the heart chambers.


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

Cardiomegaly can also sometimes accompany longstanding anemia and thyroid disease among other conditions. Other causes may include: obesity, radiation, pompe disease, uremia, tumors of the heart, some drugs. You may develop an enlarged heart temporarily because of a stress on your body.

Symptoms may not occur until the heart has enlarged to the point where it cannot cope with additional stress. Its reduced pumping efficiency leads to heart failure, with symptoms of breathlessness and ankle swelling.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Cardiomegaly is diagnosed by physical examination, chest X-ray, and echocardiography. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause. While having an enlarged heart may not always be preventable, it is usually treatable. Treatment for enlarged heart is aimed at correcting the underlying cause. Treatment for an enlarged heart can include medications, medical procedures or surgery.