What is an “enlarged heart”?

Hayden Panettiere's brother Jansen has died aged 28. (Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Hayden Panettiere’s brother Jansen has died aged 28. (Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

The loss of actor Jansen Panettiere, Hayden Panettiere’s 28-year-old younger brother, who was found dead on February 19, has left the family reeling.

Hayden and her parents, Skip Panettiere and Lesley Vogel, released a statement that read, in part, “It is with great sadness that we share the tremendous, untimely loss of our beautiful Jansen. Although it offers little consolation, the coroner reported Jansen’s sudden death as being due to cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) associated with aortic valve complications.”

The sad development has also put Jansen’s condition in the spotlight – a condition that affects many others, as Dr. Jeffrey Teuteberg, a heart failure cardiologist at Stanford Health Care who was not involved in Panettiere’s treatment, told Yahoo.

“There are millions of Americans who have some degree of cardiomegaly,” he says, noting that it’s far more common in someone who is, say, 58 years old than Panettiere’s age.

What is cardiomegaly?

American Heart Association volunteer expert Dr. Shriprasad R. Deshpande, medical director of the Heart Transplant and Advanced Cardiac Therapies Program at Children’s National Hospital, who was also not part of Panettiere’s medical team, gave a clear definition: “Cardiomegaly is enlargement of the heart’s chambers and specifically the pumping chamber (ventricles) of the heart . This usually causes the heart to pump less effectively and can eventually lead to heart failure.

Valve leaks may be one of the causes, although it’s unclear if that was the case here.

As Teuteberg tells us, “If valves are either very leaky or very narrow, over time this can impair the heart’s function, and as a result, the heart can grow larger.”

What are the symptoms?

As the heart gets bigger and weaker, people might tire more quickly.

“There may be a decrease in physical capacity, they may have a fast heartbeat, and sometimes they may experience syncope (blackout/fainting),” says Deshpande. “In children, breathing problems and stomach pain or loss of appetite may be the only symptoms that appear. Serious symptoms are sudden cardiac arrest, which can lead to sudden death.”

But it’s difficult because cardiomegaly is often disguised as other conditions, such as asthma. The sign could be as subtle as loss of appetite or abdominal pain after eating.

And Teuteberg warns that younger people who don’t have other medical conditions may not even realize they can’t bike as far or play basketball as long as they used to. But they should.

“Sometimes people develop things like swelling in their stomach or feet when it’s been a long time and it’s getting a little bit worse,” says Teuteberg. “Sometimes people also have heart palpitations or heart palpitations because cardiac arrhythmias are more common in people with a weak heart muscle.”

How is cardiomegaly diagnosed?

Don’t panic, because none of these symptoms alone mean you have heart disease. You only need to be checked if you notice anything or if cardiomegaly runs in the family. (Deshpande points out that these patients are often diagnosed in the first two years of life.)

Your doctor can examine you with an electrocardiogram and, if necessary, use an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart), which is used to diagnose the condition.

Can cardiomegaly be treated?

Yes, and the treatments can be very different. Patients can often treat heart failure, or an irregular heartbeat, with medication. In the event of severe valve leakage, Deshpande says valve surgery or valve replacement may help.

“If the heart is severely enlarged,” he says, “a heart transplant may be the best option. Sometimes when the enlargement is severe we can use small mechanical pumps to stabilize the person so that they can be bridged to the transplant.”

Here, too, both doctors advise patients to consult their family doctor with concerns.

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/jansen-panettiere-died-of-an-enlarged-heart-heres-what-that-means-021836226.html What is an “enlarged heart”?


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