What is Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH)?
LVH is a term for a heart’s left pumping chamber that has thickened and may not be pumping efficiently. Sometimes problems like aortic stenosis or high blood pressure overwork the heart muscle. In response to this pressure overload inside the heart, heart muscle cells may respond by getting thicker along the inner walls of the heart. This thickened wall can cause the left chamber 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 at all. As the condition worsens, symptoms may develop, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain (especially with exercise)
- Heart palpitations
- Dizziness or fainting
If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, speak to your doctor right away. This cluster of symptoms can have several causes and should always be discussed with your healthcare provider so that prompt attention can be given to identify the reasons.
How is Left Ventricular Hypertrophy related to other heart problems?
LVH usually happens as a result of other heart problems such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart valve problems like stenosis or regurgitation
- Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Enlargement of the aorta
How is LVH diagnosed?
Because LVH can develop silently over several years without symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose. However, a routine electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) 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 load on the heart. If LVH is caused by a heart valve problem, surgery may be needed to repair the valve.
Can LVH be reversed?
For some people, yes. There are a number of studies pointing to improved outcomes for people who are treated for LVH.
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