ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The risk of complications from an enlarged heart depends on the part of the heart that is enlarged and the underlying cause.
Complications of enlarged heart can include:
- Heart failure. One of most serious types of enlarged heart, an enlarged left ventricle, increases the risk of heart failure. Heart failure occurs when your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. Over time, the heart can no longer keep up with the normal demands placed on it. The heart muscle will weaken, and the ventricles stretch (dilate) to the point that the heart can't pump blood efficiently throughout your body.
- Blood clots. Having an enlarged heart may make you more susceptible to forming small blood clots in the lining of your heart. If clots are pumped out of the heart and enter your circulatory system, they can block the blood flow to vital organs, including your heart and brain causing a heart attack or stroke. If clots develop on the right side of your heart, they may travel to your lungs, a dangerous condition called pulmonary embolism.
- Heart murmur. For people who have an enlarged heart, two of the heart's four valves — the mitral and tricuspid valves — may not close properly because they become dilated, leading to a backflow of blood. This flow creates sounds called heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are not necessarily harmful, but they should be monitored by your doctor.
- Cardiac arrest and sudden death. Some forms of enlarged heart can lead to disruptions in your heart's beating rhythm. Some of these heart rhythms are too slow to move your blood, and some are too fast to allow the heart to beat properly. In either case, these abnormal heart rhythms can result in fainting or, in some cases, cardiac arrest or sudden death.
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