Swollen Heart

Swollen Heart Problems

A swollen heart can be a serious condition, one that can be attributable to a number of causes, but when it does occur, the heart is usually weakened as a result. A swollen heart is more often referred to as cardiac dilation, and since it is a condition in which the heart does not pump blood efficiently, heart failure can sometimes be the a result.


Blood Clotting Issues - Another problem that can crop up as a result of a swollen heart is the formation of blood clots. A swollen heart, as mentioned above, pumps blood less efficiently and more slowly, giving blood clots a greater opportunity to form. Blood clots may form in one of the arteries, only to eventually break free and block a smaller blood vessel as a result. Clots forming as the result of a swollen heart can also break off and lodge in one of the lungs, or worse yet, be carried to the brain. The medical name for a blood clot is thrombus. Some clots, called mural thrombi, remain in the cavity of the heart, sticking to the inner walls.

A person who has a dilated or swollen heart is said to be experiencing cardiomyopathy, and the usual treatment involves anticoagulant medication to keep blood clots from forming. A swollen heart sometimes is caused by an underlying condition, in which case the underlying condition must first be treated before the heart problem can be effectively dealt with.


If swelling or dilation progresses beyond a certain point, the valves in the heart may cease to function properly in that they will may not open or close correctly. The symptom in this case is a heart murmur. When this occurs, the arteries leading from the heart often tend to narrow with the resulting symptoms mimicking high blood pressure. Treatment in this case usually involves the administration of medication which causes the arteries to relax and dilate.

Swollen Heart Muscle - In some cases it is not the cavity of a swollen heart that is enlarged but one of the heart's muscles, usually the muscle mass of the left ventricle. This condition goes by a number of different names, but the overall effect is to obstruct blood flow from the left ventricle, in some cases causing one of the heart's valves, the mitral valve to begin to leak. This type of a swollen heart problem tends to be inherited and does not always exhibit noticeable symptoms, nor does it always become severe enough to require treatment. If symptoms do occur however, they usually include shortness of breath, dizziness, angina, and on occasion cardiac arrhythmia. In severe cases the use of a defibrillator may be called for. Drug treatments are usually the preferred approach to dealing with an enlarged heart muscle, although in some instances surgery is necessary to correct the problem.

Not A Problem To Be Ignored - One of the more common symptoms of a heart disorder, along with shortness of breath or chest pain (angina) is swelling in the feet or ankles. This swelling can also indicate the presence of a swollen heart condition. Any time heart disease or a heart disorder is suspected, or the symptoms appear to point to a heart problem, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. Some instances of heart disease respond to medication which may need to be taken for a long period of time, even for life, but the condition may never become overly serious. At the other extreme, a heart disorder may lead to death, even before pronounced symptoms are noticed. The bottom line is that something that even remotely indicates there may be a heart problem should never be ignored. A swollen heart can be a problem in itself, or because of the potential of blood clots forming, can lead to other very serious conditions.