Our heart is surrounded by range of muscles and tissues. Hypertrophy is the enlargement of tissues, in general and left ventricular hypertrophy is the condition in which the left ventricle of the heart gets enlarged. Our heart has four chambers namely two auricles and two ventricles. Auricles also called as artery collects impure blood from various parts of the body and sends it to ventricles. The ventricles are responsible for pumping pure blood (oxygenated) to the entire body.
Ventricles are more muscular than auricles. When the muscles of the ventricle get enlarged due to some cause, it is called left ventricular hypertrophy. This condition can occur due to increased blood pressure and other heart diseases.
LV hypertrophy does not happen suddenly, it is a slow process. For some people there may not be any symptoms during the initial stage. As the disease progresses there can be complications like shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, palpitation and fainting. All these symptoms do not appear on the same person. Some persons may have one or two symptoms depending on the intensity of muscle enlargement or other complications.
LV hypertrophy occurs when the heart is made to work heavier than normal level due to some reason. Increased blood pressure is the major cause for this disorder. When blood flow is in excess, the muscles of the ventricle are forced to contract and shrink in large rates making it inflamed. In this process, huge muscle mass builds up on the walls of the left ventricle. This would be great obstruction for the normal functioning of the ventricles causing hypertrophy.
Hypertension is the main cause for LV hypertrophy. The pressure of blood inside the heart is measured in terms of diastolic and systolic pressure. Blood pressure can develop if the systolic pressure is more than 140 mm (in mercury level) and diastolic pressure is said to high if it exceeds more than 90 mm (in mercury level). Average blood pressure of healthy adult is 80-120 mm and any reading above this level is termed as high blood pressure. Blood pressure or hypertension occurs due to age, work environment, obesity, stress and unhealthy food habits.
Sometimes the aortic valve narrows down forming aortic valve stenosis. Aortic valve is found between the auricles and the ventricles and it is the tube that connects both these organs. When the passage shrinks or gets narrowed for some reason, it may cause obstruction in the normal blood flow, resulting in building up of blood pressure on the ventricles.
Cardiomyopahty is the condition in which the heart muscles become overly thick making the heart difficult to pump blood. This condition can cause LV hypertrophy.
Even strenuous workouts or exercise can lead to hypertrophy.
Your doctor may perform electrocardiogram test for reading the heart function and echo color Doppler test for assessing the extent of damage caused to ventricular muscles. In rare cases, he may order for MRI scan to find the underlying cause of the problem.
Treatment is given with respect to the actual factor that causes left ventricular hypertrophy.
In case of blood pressure, medications are given for controlling blood pressure along with dietary changes and regular exercise pattern. There are some drugs that is capable of shrinking the muscles even further.
Your doctor may prescribe ACE inhibitors for dilating the blood vessels which would eventually lower blood pressure. Some of the popular drugs of this category are Vasotec, Ramapril and captopril. But you should know about its side effects like repeated cough before using the drug. Beta blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers and calcium channel blockers are given for controlling blood pressure.
Sleep apnea or snoring can cause LV hypertrophy and you can avoid this by using a machine that cures snoring.
For people diagnosed with stenosis, surgery is done to repair aortic valve.
In addition to the medications and treatment, you need to eat balanced diet and follow healthy lifestyle to prevent further damage to the heart muscles.
Obese people should take steps to reduce weight, limit the intake of salt and avoid taking alcohol.