How Do I Recognize Enlarged Heart Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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Recognizing enlarged heart symptoms is not always easy, as the characteristics of an enlarged heart often mimic symptoms of various other heart conditions. Symptoms of an enlarged heart may include shortness of breath, chest pain, and general fatigue. Other signs that may signify an enlarged heart may be heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat. Edema, which is an abnormal swelling, may also be present in a person with an enlarged heart.

Cardiomegaly, or a larger-than-normal heart, can often be seen on a chest x-ray, which a physician may take after a patient complains of heart-related issues. In some cases, symptoms may begin with a feeling of dizziness or light-headedness. This may be due to the heart's inability to pump blood efficiently. An enlarged heart will also have to work harder, which will often cause a fluttering in the chest. A slower-than-normal heart rate or other arrhythmia may be detected on an electrocardiogram (ECG) in patients with an enlarged heart.

Symptoms of an enlarged heart may include an ongoing cough. This may be a dry cough that does not produce phlegm, or a productive cough. Many patients who have an enlarged heart also report chest pain or tightness in the chest. A burning sensation in the chest may be felt as well. Some patients suffering from an enlarged heart due to an infection may have other symptoms, such as fever and backache.


When an enlarged heart goes undetected for a long period of time, symptoms often worsen. Patients may become dizzy and short of breath after the slightest exertion. Some patients may also experience fainting spells. Cardiomyopothy may occur when the heart muscle becomes damaged due to an enlarged heart.

During a physical examination, if a physician detects enlargement of the heart, he will try to find the cause. These symptoms may be due to infection of the heart, a problem with the heart valve, or a congenital heart defect that had gone undetected. In some cases, symptoms may occur because of a temporary condition straining the heart muscle, such as pregnancy or gestational diabetes.

If you are experiencing any enlarged heart symptoms, such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, or faintness, you should see a medical professional for evaluation. Your symptoms may be caused by an enlarged heart muscle or another heart-related condition. The symptoms described are not limited to heart-related issues, however. In some cases, these signs may be indicative of other medical conditions, making it essential to obtain an accurate diagnosis from your health care provider.


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Post 2

@mobilian33 - I sympathize with your concerns about the possibility of hereditary heart disease in your family, and this is always a possibility, but enlargement of the heart is often times caused by learned habits within a family or social group rather than any physical or biological characteristics.

When I say learned habits I mean eating unhealthy foods, not exercising regularly and other unhealthy practices such as smoking.

Now, to answer your question: a person may have heart disease for 40 or 50 years before she or he begins to notice any symptoms. In numerous cases, autopsies have been performed on teenagers and people in their early twenties and the results showed that these individuals had signs of heart disease, yet they were living normal lives seemingly unaffected by the condition. Their deaths were not related to the heart disease.

Post 1

I have had at least three relatives close to me who developed enlarged hearts. All of them were pretty much healthy before age 50 and then the condition developed sometime after that for all of them. I can't say what their exact ages were when the symptoms first began.

As I said, there could very well be more people in my family who have or have had the condition. Since this article says that an enlarged heart can be congenital I worry that this condition might run in my family and be related to hereditary traits in my family.

So I guess my question is how long does it take symptoms to become noticeable when you have hereditary factors that cause an enlarged heart? Does anyone have any knowledge about this?

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