What is Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH)?

Left Ventricular Hypertrophy LVH banner

Left ventricular hypertrophy, or LVH, is a term for a heart’s left pumping chamber that has thickened and may not be pumping efficiently. Sometimes problems such as aortic stenosis or high blood pressure overwork the heart muscle. In response to this pressure overload, the inner walls of the heart may respond by getting thicker. These thickened walls can cause the left ventricle to weaken, stiffen and lose elasticity, which may prevent healthy blood flow.

What are the symptoms of LVH?

LVH may be present for many years without any noticeable symptoms. As the condition worsens, symptoms may develop, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain (especially with exercise)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness or fainting

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your health care professional right away so that the problem can be identified and treated.

How is left ventricular hypertrophy related to other heart problems?

LVH usually happens as a result of other heart problems such as:

It's important to treat the causes of LVH early because it can lead to severe problems such as heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest and ischemic stroke.

How is LVH diagnosed?

Because LVH can develop silently over several years without symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose. However, a routine electrocardiogram or echocardiogram can usually diagnose LVH, even before symptoms become noticeable. MRI imaging of the heart can also diagnose LVH.

What are the treatment options for LVH?

LVH can often be corrected by treating the underlying problem causing the heart to work too hard. Depending on the type of damage that has occurred, treatment measures may include medications and heart-healthy lifestyle changes to help reduce the pressure in the heart. If LVH is caused by a heart valve problem, surgery may be needed to repair or replace the valve. 

Visit our Support Network to talk with others. We are here to help and encourage you in reaching your treatment goals.