The human heart comprises of myocardial muscle cells, which contract in a systematic and coordinated manner to pump blood to different parts of the body through the aorta. A swollen heart is a condition associated with overworking of the muscles of the heart as they pump harder than usual, which in turn results in their enlargement. This condition is also referred to as cardiomegaly and may be an incidental finding associated with an X-ray chest or may be associated with a host of clinical manifestations.
Causes of Swollen Heart Muscle
While in most cases, the enlargement of cardiac muscles is linked with some form of underlying disorder, in some cases it may be attributed to unknown (idiopathic) cause. Here are some common causative factors,
- Hypertension or elevated blood pressure is attributed to increased peripheral resistance to the circulation of blood, which forces the heart to pump harder and hence get enlarged. Arterial disease like atherosclerosis results in thickening of arterial walls which also increases peripheral resistance and hence contributes in swollen heart.
- Valvular heart diseases like birth defects can also result in enlargement of heart muscles and results in a swollen heart. Valvular heart disease is found in association with bacterial endocarditis, rheumatic fever and other connective tissue disorders.
- Arrhythmias can also contribute to abnormal functioning of cardiac muscle cells which result in a swollen heart.
- Other conditions include anemia, thyroid disorders ( both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism) and rare disease conditions like amyloidosis.
Swollen Heart Muscle Symptoms
Some of the common symptoms associated with swollen heart muscles include the following,
- Dyspnea or shortness of breath
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Abnormal heart rate, usually tachycardia
- Pain in the chest, which may occasionally radiate down to the left arm or back
- Cough with or without the production of mucus
Other signs include postural edema in the lower extremities, which may be indicative of poor functioning of the heart. Occasionally enlargement of the liver may also be observed as an associated finding.
In an X ray chest report, the proportion of the base of the lungs to the base of the heart is usually 2:1. However in case of a swollen heart, this ratio is usually 1:1. A confirmation of the cardiac size can be done using an echocardiogram.
What are the Treatment Options for Swollen Heart?
The treatment is usually modified based on the underlying cause which may be contributing to swelling of the cardiac muscles. However there are certain simple lifestyle modifications and tips that can help in the management of the condition,
- Quit smoking and shed extra pounds. Avoid saturated fats, transfats and processed foods. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eliminate alcohol from your diet completely.
- Ensure that your diet is low in sodium, especially if you suffer from hypertension or atherosclerosis. Monitor your blood pressure regularly.
- Regular exercise for about 45 minutes for five days in a week is essential after the age of 40 years. This helps boost up metabolism, prevents atherosclerosis and encourages blood circulation. Yoga asanas like Virbhadrasana (warrior pose) and Bhujangasana (cobra pose) are useful in improving cardiac muscle tone.
- Homeopathic drugs Aurum metallicum is potent in treatment of swollen heart. The drug needs to be taken in low potency and should be repeated twice a day.
- Ensure that you get an adequate sleep, minimum of eight hours each day.z