Left Ventricular Hypertrophy or LVH is a heart condition that causes mortal danger to one’s life if left untreated. LVH, as it is popularly known, is the thickening and enlargement of the heart wall in the heart’s left ventricle, a prominent blood-pumping chamber.
The thickening causes the heart muscles to lose their elasticity and become rigid. The condition adds extra pressure to the heart to fill up the chamber and pump the blood. In the long run, LVH declines the heart capacity to produce enough pressure to pump blood to the body.
The condition develops gradually, and at times goes unnoticed until it reaches critical stages. Regular heart health checks, hence, make a huge difference in keeping up with the heart-wellness.
Concentric LVH is one of the sub-types and results from the heart adapting to hypertension or other heart-related diseases. It affects men and women alike. The symptoms of concentric hypertrophy found in ECG/EKG include
- Increased heart wall thickness
- Normal Left ventricles cavity
- Increased Relative wall thickness
- Increased Left Ventricular mass
Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH) Symptoms
Left ventricular hypertrophy occurs commonly in people with a history of high uncontrolled blood pressure. Hence, having blood pressure in control is one of the main ways to avoid LVH. LVH leads to a higher risk of congestive heart failure and irregular heart rhythms, which are life-threatening heart conditions.
Some of the general traits experienced by people with LVH are:
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue, Dizziness, or fainting
- Chest pain after exercising or performing a strenuous activity
- Heart palpitations or fluttering of the heart
Causes of LVH
The most common cause of LVH is uncontrolled high blood pressure. Other causes might include
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a genetic condition that causes the heart wall to b slightly thicker than the average heart walls.
- The heart valve regulates the blood flow direction in the heart. Irregular or malfunctioning of these heart valves exerts extra pressure in the heart chambers, leading to thickening muscles.
- Congenital heart diseases that form during pregnancy do not allow the heart to develop as it should. If the cases are mild most of the times, it does not require rectification. In severe cases, the defect may be corrected via medications or surgery.
- Aortic valve stenosis is when the aortic valve that supplies blood to the body and is present between the lower left chamber of the heart is narrow. This condition can occur as congenital heart disease or in people over 65 due to calcium deposits in the valve.
- Athletic Training is one more reason that causes more stress exertion on the heart. In most cases, it is not fatal until another condition exists along since heart enlargement is common among athletes.
- Similar to calcium deposits mentioned, there are chances that protein deposition can also cause Left Ventricular Hypertrophy. This process or condition is called Amyloidosis.
When to see a doctor?
LVH goes undetected in the early stages since the heart is trying to adjust to the changes in the best possible way without realizing it’s an abnormality. The symptoms often manifest in the later stages. Experiencing a combination of at least two of the following problems indicates that one should consult a doctor as soon as possible.
- Frequent chest pain that lasts longer than minutes each.
- Difficulty in breathing after exercising or after mild activities
- Sudden headaches, difficulty in speaking, weakness in a particular part of the body for no reason
- Nausea, constant lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness frequently
Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH ) Diagnosis
A combination of the following tests diagnoses LVH as it does not have a standalone test.
- Electrocardiogram: This is the first step in determining if LVH exists. The electric signal is sent through the heart to observe the pattern. Any deviation from the regular pattern is an indication of an underlying problem in the heart.
- Echocardiogram: If the doctor has a reason to suspect LVH, the second step they recommend is for the patient to undergo Echocardiogram. It is the process of producing live-action images of the heart and revealing the structure of the heart using sound waves.
- MRI: Until the cardiologist has second doubts regarding the diagnosis, MRI is not suggested to determine LVH. It is the process of heart imaging to diagnose abnormalities in the heart.
Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH) Treatment
Getting blood pressure under control should ease the LVH condition. In most cases, the medications are taken to maintain regular blood pressure help prevent further enlargement of the heart and help reverse LVH. In various instances, like calcium or protein deposits found in the valves or heart, the medications might slightly differ.
The medications widen the blood vessels, lowers pressure on the heart, and decrease the pressure on the heart by improving the blood flow. The examples of these medications are:
- Calcium channel blockers are the medications that prevent calcium from entering the heart and also widen the valves.
- Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB)
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Beta-blockers are not usually recommended as the first medication. Only when other drugs fail to produce the expected results, doctors prescribe beta-blocker since they cause variations in the hormones.
The final option is surgery to repair the valves or the vessels, restricting the blood’s proper entry to the heart.
What can you do at home?
One of the best ways to avoid LVH is to follow a healthy lifestyle at home. Following a disciplined routine can help one avoid not only heart complications but other health problems as well.
- Quitting Smoking is the easiest way to avoid blockages in hearts and lungs since the residue from the smoke causes them.
- Losing weight can decrease the risk of LVH in obese people since they tend to have a slightly larger heart than ordinary weighing people. Studies have shown that losing weight can also help in reversing the condition in some cases.
- Following a heart-healthy diet that involves fiber-rich food like fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and good fats like olive oil and ghee can help avoid calcium and protein depositing in the heart.
- Avoiding extra salt intake helps maintain the proper blood pressure, thus enabling the heart’s efficient working.
- Quitting or avoiding alcohol consumption helps decrease blood pressure since alcohol is said to increase the same.
- Following a regular exercise routine for at least 30 minutes daily is a sure-shot way of avoiding health complications.
- Effective stress management is the primary way to decrease the pressure on the heart. Stress varies the levels of the hormones, thus affecting the heart and body’s efficient performance.
- Follow medications routine prescribed by the cardiologist if you are diagnosed with LVH. Do not change the dosage of the medicines without consulting the doctor.
Also, Read Seven Simple Tips to Strengthen your Heart