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Question:

One side of my heart is slightly bigger than the other. What does this mean?

I WENT TO THE ER AND FOUND OUT ONE SIDE OF MY HEART IS SLIGHTLY BIGGER THAN THE OTHER.  MY EKG WAS GOOD AND SO WAS MY CHEST XRAY.  WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT? 

submitted by Dionnel from Sumter, South Carolina on 8/21/2011

Answer:

by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Benjamin Y. Cheong, MD    

Benjamin Y. Cheong, MDFrom the information provided, it is difficult to know how the ER doctor found out one of your heart chambers is slightly larger as it appears both the ECG and chest x-ray were reported to be "normal".  In humans, we have four heart chambers (the left and right ventricle, and the left and right atrium). 

There are many causes of enlarged heart chambers, e.g.  1.  long-standing and poorly controlled high blood pressure, or congestive heart failure can lead to an enlarged left ventricle; 2.  increased age will lead to increased stiffness of the heart and the left atrium could be enlarged; 3. conditions like chronic airways disease, or pulmonary hypertension can lead to enlarged right ventricle; and 4.  "leaky" valve(s) can lead to enlargement of any heart chambers.

The best course of action would be to obtain the complete ER records and bring them to your primary care physician.  With a careful and detailed history and physical examination, frequently the cause will be evident.  If in doubt, your physician can always arrange an echocardiogram for your heart (similar to the ultrasound scan for a pregnant lady) and this would provide an accurate assessment of the size and function of your heart chambers.         

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Updated September 2011
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Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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