Re: what are symptoms of an enlarged heart
It depends on what part or side of the heart is enlarged. The heart is really 2 pumps that are side by side, separated by the lungs, valves, and cells. The right heart pumps de-oxygenated blood (from the veins) through the lungs where carbon dioxide is exchanged for oxygen and then pumped to the left heart which pumps blood to all parts of the body through the arteries.
If your left ventricle, which is the "big pumper" is enlarged enough, it can effect it's ability to pump. Their is a fraction that is a direct measurement of the efficiency of the LV and is called the ejection fraction or EF. Normal LVEF is from ~50% to ~70%. The EF of the right ventricle can also be measured (RVEF) but is usually not unless a person has right heart failure, possibly due to right ventricle enlargement.
The EF is simply the amount of blood in the left (right) ventricle after contraction, over the amount of blood in the left (right) ventricle before contraction (when it is full). There is always some amount of blood remaining after your heart contracts. Therefore the amount pumped each stroke is always a fraction.
Enlargement of any of the 4 chambers of the heart can effect any of the 4 valves of the heart, or the annulus of the the mitral and pulmonary valves.
Enlargement can cause very serious electrical disturbances in the electrical circuits of the heart, which can cause arrhythmias.
Enlargement of the right ventricle can cause right side heart failure. This in time will lead to left side heart failure. The same is true of left side heart failure. It will lead to right side heart failure. Enlargement of either side is called Chronic Heart Failure, if the enlargement is enough to cause any of many deficiencies in the function of the heart.
Cardiomyopathy is a term used to describe 3 types of heart failure, or "heart muscle disease":
Dilated, Hypertrophic, and Restrictive. Dilated and Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are associated with enlarged areas of the heart.
People with an enlarged heart, or enlarged area(s) of the heart can leave for many years after being diagnosed. There are miracle working medicines and changes of lifestyle such as a no sodium diet that can improve their symptoms dramatically.
The main thing is to treat all of the conditions that can lead to an enlarged heart such as high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate over a long period of time, and coronary artery disease.
I have just touched on a few thoughts about an enlarged heart here. There is so much more to know about this condition, which is really a general term. Some athletes get an enlarged heart from the demand they place on their heart, throughout their career.
***Edited I thought you ask what is an enlarged heart. Sorry.
Last edited by huckfinn; 12-25-2007 at 12:23 PM.
Reason: I misunderstood the question...