We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is an Enlarged Heart?

By J.L. Drede
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

An enlarged heart is a heart that has increased in size. Often called an cardiomegaly, it is not a disease or disorder, but a symptom of another, usually serious, medial condition. An enlarged heart can be a temporary condition that disappears on its own, or a chronic problem that requires medial attention.

Many times there are no symptoms to an enlarged heart. When there are symptoms through they can be severe. An abnormal heart rhythm, also called arrhythmia, is a common side effect to cardiomegaly. Other symptoms may be an increased difficulty in breathing, a shortness of breath and bouts of dizziness. Excessive coughing can also be a symptom. More severe symptoms include severe chest pain, and feeling faint or fainting. These can also be signs of a heart attack, which can occur because of an enlarged heart.

A heart usually becomes enlarged because there is added stress put upon it. Sometimes this can be a temporary condition caused by an injury, but other times it is because of something more serious. High blood pressure, heart valve disease, thyroid disorders, congenital heart defects and anemia are all common causes of an enlarged heart. Another cause is cardiomypathy, or a weakness of the heart muscle. As the muscle weakens more, it may enlarge as an attempt to compensate. Sometimes excessive elements in the body can lead to heart problems. Hemochromatosis, a build up of iron in the body, is another common cause for an enlarged heart. The same is true for amyloidosis, a build up of protein in the heart itself.

Doctors can not determine if someone has an enlarged heart with a basic examination, meaning additional tests must be performed in order to find out. Most often they will perform an x-ray of the chest. In addition to discovering if the heart is enlarged, a chest x-ray can bring to light other conditions that may have lead to the enlargement in the first place. Usually after an x-ray additional tests will be made.

Patients are usually given an electrocardiogram to monitor the electrical activity of the heart as well as an echocardiogram to produce and analyze a visual image of the heart. Computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans, more commonly referred to as CT and MRI scans, are sometimes also used to determine the nature of a patient's heart condition. Blood tests are also taken.

Once diagnosed, correcting an enlarged heart is done by treating the underlying condition that caused it in the first place. Medication to restore heart strength, lower blood pressure, or keep thyroid levels in check may be prescribed, depending on the diagnosis. Sometimes surgery is also necessary. Pacemakers and replacement heart valves can sometimes correct medical conditions associated with enlarged hearts.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.