Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) is a thickening of the heart muscle of the left ventricle of the heart which is also referred to as left-sided ventricular hypertrophy. The condition can be diagnosed on an ECG (echocardiogram) with great exactitude but may first be noticed on an EKG (electrocardiogram).
Left ventricular hypertrophy is a response to pressure overload and is secondary to conditions like hypertension and aortic stenosis. Other causes of left ventricular hypertrophy include athletic hypertrophy (a condition related to exercise), valve disease, congenital heart disease, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
The most characteristic symptoms of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy are represented by shortness of breath, chest pain (especially following activity), feeling dizzy or fainting, and rapid heartbeat (palpitations). During the early stages, this condition may present no signs or symptoms at all.
The kind of treatment that will be chosen depends on the cause of the Left Ventricular Hypertrophy.
Hypertensive LVH is caused by high blood pressure and is treated by controlling blood pressure via lifestyle changes and medications when needed.
Athletic hypertrophy doesn’t require any treatment. Individuals with athletic hypertrophy will need to discontinue exercising for three to six months and then get another echocardiogram in order to measure the thickness of the heart muscle to see if the thickness has decreased.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HOCM) is a rare condition that needs to be followed by a trained cardiologist and may need surgery or medical management. It’s important to get proper treatment since the condition can increase the risk of developing heart failure.