Thursday, 6 September 2012

WOTD: Cardiomegaly

Chest x-ray images of the same patient: the left panel taken on admission and the right panel 3 months after.
Photograph: ESC Council for Cardiology Practice

‎"Cardiomegaly" - enlargement of the heart. Cardiomegaly make take the form of hypertrophy (thickening) of the heart muscle or of dilation (increase in volume) of one or more of the heart chambers. Hypertrophy occurs in conditions in which 
the heart has to work harder than normal to pump blood around the body. These include hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, thyroid disease, severe anaemia, and one type of cardiomyopathy. Dilation of a heart chamber may be due to heart valve incompetence (failure of a valve to close properly after a contraction) such as occurs in aortic insufficiency.

Symptoms may not occur until the heart has enlarged to the point where it cannot cope with additional stress. Its reduced pumping efficiency leads to heart failure, with symptoms of breathlessness and ankle swelling. Cardiomegaly is diagnosed by physical examination, chest X-ray, and echocardiography. Treatment is directed at the underlying cause.

"cardiomegaly". British Medical Association (2007). Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 2nd ed. London: Dorling Kindersley (DK). p110.

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