Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
Like any other muscle, your heart grows when it works harder.
Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is an enlargement and thickening of your heart’s lower chamber, the left ventricle. Most commonly, this condition develops because high blood pressure or a heart condition is making your heart work harder than usual to pump blood. As a result, your heart muscle grows. While this is beneficial for most muscles, an enlarged or thickened heart is not desirable, because it stiffens and may weaken the left ventricle, diminishing the supply of blood to your organs.
Approximately 20% of patients with high blood pressure develop LVH.
Although the condition can be well-managed, when you have LVH, you are at greater risk of developing heart failure (deficient heart pump), arrhythmia (irregular rate and rhythm), heart attack, stroke and death.
Heart-healthy nutrition and lifestyle modifications – alone or in combination with medical treatment – can lower your blood pressure and reverse LVH, as well as decrease any symptoms of heart failure. Regular exercise and weight loss are very helpful. However, if you have LVH plus hypertension, treatment is more aggressive. There are also special infiltrative conditions that abnormally thicken the left ventricle that may require special diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms may include:
• Chest pain, often after exercise
• Dizziness or fainting
• Rapid, fluttering or pounding heartbeats (palpitations)
• Shortness of breath