Many sports athletes have enlarged hearts due the excessive exercise that they do. They need no treatment for their condition. In other cases, people have enlarged hearts due a defect in the heart. These patients may need treatment for their condition to help prevent complications.
The Mayo Clinic reports that an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) isn't a disease but a symptom of another condition. The treatment for an enlarged heart focuses on correcting the underlying problem. There are also lifestyle changes that a person can make to help with treating this condition.
When Is Treatment Needed?
Treatment for an enlarged heart is not always necessary. Some enlarged hearts are temporary and some are sports-related and do not need treatment. However, in some cases the patient has gone into heart failure or cannot lead a normal life due the decline in the heart's health. In these cases, patients cannot perform daily tasks such as walking to the mailbox without having respiratory problems.
Sometimes physicians try to treat an enlarged heart with prescription medications. Physicians may use any of the following drug families: diuretics, digoxin, ACE inhibitors, ARBs and/or beta blockers. Medications are commonly used when the physician determines that the heart muscle has been weakened and the patient needs medication to help deal with the symptoms of heart failure.
The website for the Mayo Clinic reports that heart-transplant surgery may be needed when the heart is damaged beyond repair or when medications are unable to control the symptoms. It can be a very long wait for a person needing a transplant because of the difficulty getting a donor heart. Sometimes the heart valve is the cause of the enlargement. In this case, surgery may be needed to repair the valve. Either type of surgery is invasive and will require a stay in the hospital.
There are times when a physician believes that a patient would benefit from the placement of a medical device. The website for the Mayo Clinic reports that specialised pacemakers are used to treat dilated cardiomyopathy, which is one cause of an enlarged heart. Patients that have arrhythmias due to an enlarged heart may need an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to help control this condition.
The website for the Mayo Clinic reports that implementing lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, losing weight, eating a low-salt and low-fat diet, controlling diabetes, monitoring blood pressure, getting moderate exercise, limiting alcohol and getting eight hours of sleep a night can be very helpful with treating an enlarged heart.
A person who receives treatment for an enlarged heart can go on to lead a very normal life. Many times these patients can even live to a ripe old age when they apply a few of the lifestyle changes in addition to the medical treatment.