May also be called: Enlarged Heart; Macrocardia; Megalocardia; Cardiac
Cardiomegaly (kar-dee-oh-MEG-uh-lee) is the medical term for an enlarged heart.
More to Know
The heart is the key organ in the circulatory system. This strong muscle has to
pump blood to all parts of the body thousands of times a day. To do this well, the
heart has to be in good shape, just like any other muscle.
An enlarged heart can be a sign that it's weak and out of shape due to an underlying
medical condition. Cardiomegaly may happen in people who have:
Someone with an enlarged heart might have symptoms such as shortness of breath,
chest pain, or swelling in the legs.
When a condition like high blood pressure causes the heart to work harder, the
heart muscle grows thicker and larger. The heart also can enlarge when its walls are
stretched and become thin. Over time, both of these weaken the heart.
If cardiomegaly is found, tests will be done to find and treat its cause. Not treating
the condition causing cardiomegaly can lead to heart failure and other serious problems.
Keep in Mind
Sometimes, such as with athletes and pregnant women, cardiomegaly is normal and
reversible, meaning that the heart can go back to its normal size. Other cases could
be a sign of a serious heart condition that could quickly become life threatening.
Successfully treating the condition causing the heart to enlarge will often treat
the cardiomegaly as well.
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