Enlarged Heart In Children: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

An enlarged heart is not actually a disease, but a symptom of another disease-condition. Medically, it is known as cardiomegaly. You may develop an enlarged heart due to a medical condition, such as a heart valve disorder, weakening of the cardiac muscle, coronary artery disease, or anomalous heart rhythms or may be temporarily due to stress.

What Causes An Enlarged Heart In A Child?

An enlarged heart develops due to conditions which make your heart pump harder than usual or when there is impairment to the cardiac muscle.

  • Idiopathic: There may be no known cause, it could just be congenital.
  • Hypertension: The heart needs to work harder in order to deliver blood to the rest of your body, consequently, it enlarges and thickens.
  • Heart valve disease:If the valves of your heart are impaired your heart may enlarge.
  • Pericardial effusion: A buildup of fluid in the sac which houses your heart causes the heart to appear enlarged on the X-ray.
  • Thyroid disorders: Hypothyroidism as well as hyperthyroidism are known to cause an enlarged heart.
  • Anemia: If the child has anemia and is neglected; it eventually leads to a quick or irregular heartbeat. The heart will then pump more blood to compensate for the insufficiency of oxygen in the blood.
  • Hemochromatosis: A condition wherein in the body fails to metabolize iron properly, causing it to accumulate in various organs, including your heart. This in turn is known to enlarge the heart.

Symptoms Of Enlarged Heart

In some there may be no signs or symptoms at all. Others show:

  • Breathlessness
  • Edema
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

Treatment Options For Enlarged Heart

Discuss with your health care provider / cardiologist regarding the best treatment option for you; usually, this is the treatment regimen that is adopted by most doctors:

  • Diuretics- are given to reduce the sodium and water in the body; this helps maintain normal pressure in the arteries and heart
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors- to and improve the heart’s pumping ability and keep B.P. normal.
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers -to those who cannot take ACE inhibitors.
  • Beta blockers- to decrease B.P.
  • Anti-arrhythmics- to help keep the heart beating normally.
  • Digoxin- to enhance pumping of your heart and lessen the need for hospitalization.
  • Anticoagulants- to ensure that blood clots do not form; these could set off a heart attack or stroke.
  • A pacemaker – to coordinate the contractions between the left and right ventricle.
  • ICDs – may need to be implanted in the chest to keep an eye on your heart rhythm constantly and convey electrical shocks when there are abnormal, rapid heartbeats.
  • Heart valve surgery – this is done to repair a malfunctioning valve or remove the valve and substitute it with an artificial one or from a deceased human donor or with a tissue valve from an animal donor.
  • Coronary bypass surgery – in case of a coronary artery disease, your doctor will advise you to have a coronary artery bypass surgery.
  • Heart transplant – in case medications fail to manage the condition symptoms, a heart transplant may be your final option. However, given that there is a dearth of donor hearts, even if seriously ill you may have to wait for long to have a heart transplant.