Enlarged heart symptoms: What causes enlargement of the heart muscle

Although enlarged heart symptoms can help determine whether you have enlarged heart or not, imaging tests of the heart are the only conclusive method to determine the size of the heart muscle.

On the other hand, symptoms related to enlarged heart can be caused by another conditions.

Enlarged heart is actually a symptom of heart disease and not a disease by itself. Some people may have bigger heart, due to their genetics. For example, I have it as well as my father and his mother, my grandmother.

While enlarged heart is usually related to heart disease or genetics, exercise can also cause heart muscle to enlarge. It is known as athlete's heart. However, it is caused by adaptations of athlete's cardiovascular system on intense physical activities, not by disease.

Also, diet, lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, hormones and lifestyle choices can affect heart function and its size.


  • Shortness of breath is one of the main symptoms of heart enlargment. Since heart's pumping function is weakened, it causes fluid to collect in the lung tissue which leads to shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain is also a very common symptom. It is somewhat different than chest pain caused by heart failure or heart attack. Person with enlarged heart often experiences chest pain during exercise, while the pain is usually localized and it rarely expands to the arms, legs or back.
  • Dizziness and fatigue are caused by lack of oxygen, due to weakened heart function.
  • Swelling or edema is caused by fluid retention.
  • Cough usually comes in combination with shortness of breath.
  • Irregular heartbeats, Palpitations
  • Thyroid problems
  • High blood pressure

    Based on enlarged heart symptoms, the doctor will schedule an exam for you to determine the size of your heart.

    Diagnosis is done with the use of chest x-ray, echocardiogram, CT, MRI as well as with the electrocardiogram, stress test, blood test and biopsy. This tests help the doctors determine the size of your heart, its function and to detect the underlying cause of the enlarged heart.

    Treatment can consist of medications, surgery and even heart transplant in extreme cases. However, diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle can be very effective in restoring heart to its normal size and function. In order for treatment to be effective, it is essential to find the cause of enlarged heart.

    Prognosis is often very good for people who stick to healthy diet and lifestyle choices. On the other hand, those individuals who continue to smoke, drink alcohol, eat junk food or lie around all day will most likely face death or heart transplant surgery.


    From my experience, hormones can have a huge effect on the heart function and size. However, diet, exercise, smoking, stress, alcohol and environment(chemicals) have a immense effect on our hormones and body chemistry. This is most obvious in teenage years,  when the levels of sex hormones are at their highest. However, it affects people of all ages.

    Although I experienced some of enlarged heart symptoms, I really didn't pay too much attention to them because of my age. Don't do the same mistake I did, no matter how old you are.


    Whether you have some of the enlarged heart symptoms or suspect that your heart muscle is enlarged, it is crucial to talk with your doctor and do some tests. I found out for my enlarged heart, by accident, during mandatory medical examination at the age of 17. Later I found out that I have it due to my genetics.

    However, I also had heart disease which caused it to grow even bigger. Luckily for me, I found out in time and changed my diet, started to exercise and live healthy.

    Thanks to these facts, some supplements, herbs and the knowledge acquired while trying to figure out the cause of my heart disease, I managed to somewhat reduce the size of my heart and get rid of heart disease, completely.

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