Enlarged Heart

Chest | Cardiology | Enlarged Heart (Symptom)


The heart is a muscular pump about the size of a clenched fist. An enlarged heart is not a condition in itself, but a symptom of an underlying problem that is causing the heart to work harder than normal. Older people are at increased risk. Another name for an enlarged heart is cardiomegaly.


The range of underlying problems that can lead to an enlarged heart may be: (1) pathological – linked to actual disease of the heart muscle; (2) physiological – linked to other causes that are overworking the heart muscle, such as high blood pressure or thyroid diseases.

In some cases, an enlarged heart is asymptomatic (has no symptoms). When symptoms do occur, it may be because the heart fails to pump blood effectively and this leads to a syndrome known as congestive heart failure. Symptoms may include: breathing problems, shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), heart palpitations, and fluid retention.

Heart enlargement 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. Enlarged heart can also sometimes accompany longstanding anaemia and thyroid disease, among other conditions.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment and prognosis are dependent upon the underlying cause.