Hypertrophy describes an organ or tissue that has increased in size. In this case, the affected organ is your heart, specifically your right ventricle. This is the question to ask yourself about right ventricular hypertrophy-Are YOU at risk?
- Over time, this may cause the heart to stiffen, become weak and eventually fail.
When hypertrophy develops, the thicker heart muscle loses elasticity over time.
- In the case of the right ventricle, this causes it to struggle to pump blood to the lungs for more oxygen to be retrieved.
Right Ventricular Hypertrophy can wear down the heart, leading to further complications as time goes on.
Causes of Right Ventricular Hypertrophy
Right Ventricular Hypertrophy is usually caused either by a congenital (present at birth) heart conditions or high blood pressure in the lungs, which is known as**Pulmonary Hypertension.
➡ **Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the blood vessels that collect oxygen from the lungs.
Contributing factors for pulmonary hypertension include the following:
➡ Pulmonary valve stenosis
➡ Chronic anemia, such as iron, folate or B12 deficiency
➡ Sleep apnea
➡ COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
➡ **Pulmonary embolism, which is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs.
**In most cases, a pulmonary embolism is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs or, rarely, other parts of the body (deep vein thrombosis).
Symptoms of Right Ventricular Hypertrophy may include:
- Chest pain
- Excess fluid buildup (Edema)
- Shortness of breath (Dyspnea)
- Heart palpitations
- Rapid heart rate (Tachycardia)
RVH is difficult to diagnose.
Typically, a range of tests is required for an accurate diagnosis.
Doctors will begin a diagnosis with a physical examination.
They will probably recommend imaging tests to look at the heart, including electrocardiography (ECG) and an echocardiogram, which are commonly used to diagnose RVH.
- The left ventricle is usually bigger than the right, so for the right ventricle to show up on an ECG test, it will usually be more pronounced.
ECG tests have their drawbacks, however. The tests are often not sensitive enough to diagnose mild to moderate RVH and may lead to misdiagnosis in these cases.
- If there is any suspicion based on symptoms and ECG findings, the doctor may order a right-sided ECG.
Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) may be necessary as well to get a more accurate image of the heart.
Complications And Risk Factors
Certain conditions and habits may put a person at greater risk for RVH. These include:
➡ Smoking, which raises the risk of many heart and pulmonary conditions.
➡ Sleep Apnea, which is a common risk factor and may affect the arteries in the lungs.
➡ Strenuous activity or overexertion can produce signs of hypertrophy.
The main complications associated with Right Ventricular Hypertrophy are caused by the unnecessary stress it places on the heart.
If it’s not treated, RVH can result in a weakened heart and can increase the risk of heart failure and cardiovascular death in some people.
Treatment and Prevention
Treating RVH involves treating the cause of the condition rather than the hypertrophy itself.
- For instance, people who have problems with their blood pressure may require blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
When RVH is caused by pulmonary hypertension, doctors will prescribe specific drugs to treat that condition. These medications include vasodilators.
- Vasodilators are a group of medicines that dilate (open) or help open up or relax the blood vessels, which allows blood to flow more easily.
Some drugs that are used for erectile dysfunction in men can also help open up the pulmonary arteries and may be used for RVH.
Treatment for Right Ventricular Hypertrophy also aims to reduce or stop the thickening of the walls of the right ventricle.
- Unfortunately, there is no treatment to reverse the thickening of these walls completely at this time, although medications called ACE inhibitors have been shown to help.
Preventing RVH from getting worse is possible in many cases.
Prevention methods for RVH include reducing individual risk factors and promoting a heart and lung-healthy lifestyle.
➡ Quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in a regular, mild to moderate exercise routine are all ways to maintain heart and lung health. But you knew that.