Left Ventricular Hypertrophy

Diagnosed with Left Ventricular Hypertrophy in Orange County? Trust Hoag.

Advanced, patient-focused cardiac care in Orange County has a name: Hoag. At Hoag’s Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart and Vascular Institute, we offer world-class cardiovascular teams committed to delivering the latest diagnostic technology and life-changing care for every patient, every time.

That commitment to excellence is why U.S. News & World Report rated Hoag among the best hospitals in the nation for Heart Failure in 2023-2024.

Read on for more information about the signs, symptoms and risk factors for left ventricular hypertrophy. And if you need next-generation cardiac care in Orange County, help is just a short drive away, at Hoag. Contact us today through our online form or by calling 949-764-5384.

What is Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH)?

Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is a medical condition that occurs when muscle tissue in the wall of the heart’s left ventricle becomes abnormally thickened. The lower left chamber of the heart, the left ventricle acts as the heart’s main pumping chamber, responsible for pushing oxygenated blood into the aorta, which is the body’s main artery.

A variety of medical conditions can put extra strain on the heart muscle. As strain on the left ventricle increases, the heart muscle must work harder to compensate. Working harder over time can cause the cardiac muscle of the left ventricle to increase in thickness.

When the walls of the left ventricle thicken, the heart may become less able to maintain healthy blood flow through the aorta to the rest of the body. That can cause vital organs and tissues to become starved of oxygen-rich blood, causing a variety of symptoms and complications, including some that might be life-threatening.

How Common is Left Ventricular Hypertrophy?

Left ventricular hypertrophy is a very common condition, affecting an estimated one in five people.

Many Americans have risk factors that can make it more likely a person will develop LVH. Risk factors for left ventricular hypertrophy include being obese, having diabetes, high blood pressure or heart valve diseases such as aortic valve stenosis. Learn more about Hoag’s Aortic Program here

Having certain cardiovascular conditions can greatly increase the chance of having left ventricular hypertrophy. For example, studies show that among those who suffer from high blood pressure, also called hypertension, almost half have left ventricular hypertrophy.

What are the Symptoms of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy within the left ventricle usually involves a gradual progression of symptoms. In mild cases, left ventricular hypertrophy may not cause any symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Swelling in the extremities, such as in the legs
  • Chest pain, especially during physical exercise
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeats called palpitations
  • Fainting that may cause you to lose consciousness
  • Dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath or severe difficulty breathing
  • Unusual fatigue​​​​​​​​​​

What Causes Left Ventricular Hypertrophy?

In most cases, left ventricular hypertrophy is caused by a medical condition that forces the left ventricle to work harder to maintain blood flow throughout the body.

Conditions that can contribute to or cause left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) may include:

High Blood Pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the most common cause of hypertrophy within the left ventricle. Long-term high blood pressure can put immense strain on the lower-left heart chamber, along with the other structures of the heart and the aorta, the body’s largest and most important artery.

Aortic Valve Stenosis

The heart is made up of a series of hollow spaces known as heart chambers, with heart valves directing blood flow through them. One of these valves is the aortic valve, which regulates blood flow between the heart and the aorta. The aortic valve can sometimes become narrowed, a condition called aortic stenosis. This condition can require the heart muscle to work harder to force blood through this narrowed opening, which can thicken the left ventricle walls. Learn more about Hoag’s Aortic Program here

Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart defects are issues with the structure of the heart or heart valves that are present at birth. While some heart defects cause mild symptoms or none at all, other types of congenital heart disease can result in abnormalities in cardiac structure that force the heart to work harder to pump blood, resulting in left ventricular hypertrophy.

Athletic Heart Syndrome

In rare cases, intense athletic training can increase the thickness of the left ventricle walls. This issue, sometimes called “athlete’s heart,” is usually not as dangerous as disease-driven cases of left ventricular hypertrophy, and usually doesn’t require the same level of treatment.

Other Causes

There are a number of other medical conditions that can make the heart work harder and result in LVH. These conditions may include:

  • Atrial fibrillation, which is a rapid and abnormal heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the walls of the left ventricle become thick and stiff
Can Left Ventricular Hypertrophy Cause Any Serious Complications?

If left untreated, left ventricular hypertrophy can increase the risk of serious complications and symptoms, including serious heart disease or even death. Potential complications of left ventricular hypertrophy may include:

  • Heart failure
  • Arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Sudden cardiac arrest​​​​​​​​​​

Prevention of these complications typically requires an accurate diagnosis of left ventricular hypertrophy. Understanding the risk factors that can put you at increased risk of the condition can be a critical element to controlling it before it can lead to severe complications.

Who is Most at Risk to Develop Left Ventricular Hypertrophy?

Women are more likely than men to develop left ventricular hypertrophy. In addition, there are various medical conditions that can increase a person’s risk of left ventricular hypertrophy.

Individuals at higher risk include those with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • A family history of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH)
  • Diabetes
  • Advanced age
Are There Ways to Reduce My Risk of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy?

While there is no definitive way to prevent yourself from developing left ventricular hypertrophy, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Ways to potentially reduce your risk factors for left ventricular hypertrophy may include:

Treating High Blood Pressure

Treating or preventing high blood pressure is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy. A blood pressure reading can be taken at home using an at-home blood pressure cuff. However, getting your blood pressure checked by a healthcare provider is ideal.

Leading a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Reducing the amount of strain placed on the heart is vital to help the heart pump blood efficiently and avoid left-ventricular hypertrophy. Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is a critical part of this. There are many lifestyle changes that can have big benefits for your heart, including:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Limiting the consumption of alcohol
  • Don’t smoke tobacco and avoid secondhand cigarette smoke
  • Eating healthy foods that are low in saturated fat and excessive amounts of sodium

Along with potentially preventing left ventricular hypertrophy, many of these same healthy lifestyle changes can help preserve heart function, improve blood flow and help prevent severe complications of cardiac conditions like heart failure or heart attack.

Getting Regular Medical Checkups

Left ventricular hypertrophy primarily occurs as the result of another condition that forces the heart to work harder. If you are diagnosed with a condition that can possibly lead to left ventricular hypertrophy, it is important to schedule regular checkups with your healthcare provider to monitor and maintain your heart health.

Sometimes, these checkups may involve a physical exam where the heart is evaluated. During these checkups, a doctor may even diagnose left ventricular hypertrophy before it can become more severe.

Visit our screening and diagnostics page or our treatment and management page to learn more.

Need Treatment for Left Ventricular Hypertrophy? Orange County Trusts Hoag for Advanced Cardiac Care.

Hoag will never stop raising the bar for cardiac care in Orange County and beyond.

Facing left ventricular hypertrophy in Orange County? Then you need advanced cardiac care. So don’t wait, contact Hoag through our online form or by calling 949-764-5384.




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