Treat Enlarged Heart: Medicine, Surgery and Lifestyle Change

An enlarged heart, also known as cardiomegaly, by itself isn’t a disease, but is usually an indicator of an underlying condition. It may develop as a temporary or permanent condition. It’s caused by several factors that exert stress to the body. These may be medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, abnormal heart rhythms, heart valve problems or weakening of the heart muscles, or pregnancy. These conditions may cause the heart to enlarge by making thicker its muscles or by dilating one of the heart chambers. By correcting the cause, enlarged heart treatment is possible.

Causes and Symptoms of Enlarged Heart

Causes of an Enlarged Heart

Usually enlargement of the heart is caused by another underlying condition that exerts stress on the body. Despite there being many different causes, some cases of enlarged heart have no known cause.

Pregnancy is a common cause but it’s usually temporary and therefore the heart isn’t damaged permanently. Treating enlarged heart is therefore easier. Other common causes of an enlarged heart include:

  • Congenital factors – you were born with the condition.
  • Heart attack damage
  • Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Disease of the heart valves
  • Kidney disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Viral infection of the heart
  • Amyloidosis
  • HIV infection
  • Anemia
  • Abnormal heart valve
  • Alcohol or cocaine abuse

Signs and Symptoms of an Enlarged Heart

Another condition in the body may cause an enlarged heart, meaning the signs and symptoms you display are connected to the cause of the megalocardia. However, since the heart is unable to properly pump blood, the symptoms may appear similar to those of congestive heart failure such as shortness of breath, swelling of legs, heart palpitations, tiredness and weight gain, particularly in your mid-section.

Some patients may never display any symptoms at all and therefore the condition could go undiagnosed. However, other symptoms may occur, depending on the cause. Therefore, it’s good to investigate further.

Enlarged Heart Treatment: Medication and Surgery

Treatment is mainly aimed at addressing the cause.


If a heart condition such as cardiomyopathy is the cause of your enlarged heart, your doctor may prescribe the following recommended medications:

  • Diuretics which lower the amount of sodium and water in the body, thus lowering pressure in blood vessels and the heart
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors which improve your heart’s pumping capability by lowering blood pressure
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) which give the benefits of ACE inhibitors to those who can't take them
  • Beta blockers which lower blood pressure thus improving heart function
  • Anticoagulants which reduce the chances of blood clotting which could cause stroke or heart attack
  • Anti-arrhythmics which keeps the heart beating in a normal rhythm

Medical Procedures and Surgeries

If medication as an enlarged heart treatment method doesn’t work for you, medical procedures or surgery such as the following may be needed.

  • Medical devices to regulate your heartbeat. For a dilated cardiomyopathy, a pacemaker which coordinates the left and right ventricle contractions may be necessary. Also drug therapy or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) may be used on people at high risk of arrhythmias.

ICDs, which can also work as pacemakers are small devices implanted on the chest. They continuously monitor the heart’s rhythm and sendelectrical shocks to control abnormal, rapid heartbeats when required.

If atrial fibrillation is the main cause of your cardiomegaly, you may need certain procedures to restore regular rhythm or to prevent your heart from beating too fast.

  • Heart valve surgeryIt may be performed if the conditionis caused by a problem with one of your heart valves or it has caused heart valve problems. The surgery is carried out to repair or replace the affected valve.
  • Coronary bypass surgery. This is recommended if your cardiomegaly is caused by coronary artery disease.
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD). This is given in cases of heart failure. It helps your weakened heart to pump blood. It may be implanted as a long-term treatment or if you’re awaiting a heart transplant.
  • Heart transplant. This is done when there’s no other option available. Since heart donors are rare, critically ill patients may have to wait for long before ever getting the transplant.

Enlarged Heart Treatment: Lifestyle Changes

1. Change Your Eating Habits

Diet is a key factor to consider in order to combat enlarged heart cases or the underlying causative factors. This means you should have more of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, healthy proteins and foods with low saturated fats in your diet.

  • Additionally, drink 6-8 eight-ounce glasses of water daily.
  • To help lower cholesterol, sodium and blood pressure levels in your body, eat more green leafy vegetables, fish, fruits and beans.
  • Your doctor can also give you a diet plan that is more suited to your situation.

2. Work Out

Physical activity is a really vital treatment method and should be included in your daily routine. Your doctor may recommend various work outs depending on your condition, from light aerobics such as walking to even swimming or bike riding.

  • If you need to get stronger or lose some weight, you may need to do some more intense cardio and strength exercises such as running or riding a bike.
  • It’s important that you always consult your doctor before undertaking any form of exercise so as to get the right recommendations.
  • With a proper diet and physical activity routine, you will not only lose weight but also help in combating underlying causes of cardiomegaly.

3. Avoid Bad Habits

If you happen to get diagnosed with an enlarged heart, avoid or stop smoking, excessive drinking of alcohol and caffeine as all these strain your heart muscles and blood vessels. Alcohol and caffeine cause irregular beating rhythm which further strains the heart muscles.

Try to also get at least 8 hours of sleep daily. This helps regulate your heart beat and replenish your body.

4. Visit Your Doctor Frequently

Occasional visits to your doctor during your journey of recovery are important as he will keep monitoring the condition and advise accordingly. Further, he’s able to tell whether you are positively responding to the medication or you will need to look for more advanced treatment.