Left ventricular hypertrophy refers to the thickening and enlargement of the walls of the heart’s left chamber. The condition can develop as a complication of other health issues, such as an underlying heart condition or high blood pressure, which force the left ventricle of the heart to work harder than normal. When the workload is increased, the muscle tissues in the chamber’s walls start to become thick, while sometimes, the left ventricle itself increases in size. This causes loss of elasticity in the heart muscles, which eventually fails to pump normally with the strength needed. As the condition is commonly seen to trigger other complications like heart attacks and stroke, it is recommended to see a doctor at the nearest community healthcare center as soon as any of the following symptoms are noticed.

Symptoms of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy

It is seen that left ventricular hypertrophy develops very slowly in most of the cases. Some patient may not experience any kind of symptom in the early stages of the disease, but show signs like shortness of breath, fatigue, tiredness, chest pain, rapid or pounding heartbeats, dizziness or fainting, etc., in the later stages. As it is important to diagnose the condition in time, it is recommended to see a doctor if you feel any kind of chest pain for more than a couple of minutes, especially after working out. Similarly, those experiencing breathing problems or severe lightheadedness should also consult with a healthcare expert to rule out the possibilities of any underlying heart condition.

If you lose consciousness often, have shortness of breath, or experience palpitations, where you feel as if your heart is fluttering or skipping a beat, then you should seek medical help immediately. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure or any other heart-related condition that could make you prone to left ventricular hypertrophy. In such cases, it would be better if you could schedule regular visits to the community healthcare center to monitor the health of your heart. Similarly, you should check your blood pressure regularly in case you are overweight or if you smoke cigarettes.

Common Causes of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy

As said, left ventricular hypertrophy occurs when your body forces the heart to work harder than usual. The common causes that could contribute to that include:

  • High blood pressure or hypertension – This is the most cited cause of left ventricular hypertrophy. In fact, more than one-third of the patients experiencing the symptoms of left ventricular hypertrophy are found to have high blood pressure.
  • Aortic valve stenosis – This condition refers to the narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart, which separates the left ventricle from the aorta. The narrowing of the valve forces the left ventricle to work harder in order to supply blood to the blood vessel.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – This is a genetic disorder, which is seen to happen when the muscle tissues of the heart become abnormally thickened. This makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. Note that this condition can happen in patients with completely normal blood pressure as well.
  • Athletic training – In some cases, prolonged and intense physical workout can also force the heart to work harder in order to supply blood and oxygen to the different parts of the body. This can gradually make the walls of the left ventricle stiff and thick, leading to left ventricular hypertrophy.

As left ventricular hypertrophy can potentially change the structure of the heart as well as how it functions, it can lead to a lot of health complications. The enlarged left chamber of the heart can become weakened over time, lose elasticity, and become stiff, which would in turn prevent the ventricle from filling up to full capacity and increase the pressure in the heart. Similarly, it can lead to the compression of the coronary arteries and blood vessels in the heart, which can limit the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the different parts of the body. Such issues can then translate into other health complications, such as abnormal heart rhythm, decreased blood flow to the body, atrial fibrillation, ischemic heart disease, breathing problems, heart failure, cardiac arrest, and stroke.

How to Prevent Left Ventricular Hypertrophy

Doctors at community healthcare centers recommend maintaining a healthy blood pressure to prevent the chances of developing left ventricular hypertrophy condition. In order to do so, you should monitor your blood pressure regularly as well as plan for routine health checkups at the nearest community healthcare center. You should also follow a regular physical activity schedule to lower your blood pressure as well as to keep it at normal levels. Following a healthy diet is also recommended, such as avoiding foods that have high saturated fat and salt content and including more fruits and vegetables instead. Similarly, avoiding alcoholic beverages and quitting smoking would also help you to steer clear of left ventricular hypertrophy and other heart-related conditions.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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