Left ventricular hypertrophy is augmentation and fattening of the walls of the left ventricle-the main pumping chamber of the heart. The condition can develop because of factors like high blood pressure or a heart condition that make the left ventricle to work harder. When the ventricle works more, the muscle tissue of the wall of the chamber thickens. Sometimes, the size of the chamber can increase also. This enlargement of the heart muscle makes the heart less elastic and incapable to pump blood as much as needed. Left ventricular hypertrophy often affects people with uncontrolled high pressure. Anyway, however high a person’s blood pressure is, if left ventricular hypertrophy is developed, it puts the person at greater risk for experiencing heart attack and strokes. Treatment of high blood pressure may ease the symptoms and even reverse the condition of left ventricular hypertrophy.



The symptoms of left ventricular hypertrophy may not show, especially in the early stages of the condition which develops gradually. As the condition progresses, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid or pounding heartbeats
  • Pin in the chest (usually after exercising)

If some of these symptoms are severe, the person should seek emergent medical help.

If a person has high blood pressure or other condition that may increase the risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy, regular appointments to monitor the condition or regular annual blood pressure check is needed.



Factors that cause the heart to work harder can be:

  • Hypertension-most common cause of left ventricular hypertrophy
  • Aortic valve stenosis-narrowing of the aortic valve
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-genetic disease when the heart is abnormally thick
  • Athletic training


Risk factors

Other causes i.e. factors that can increase the risk of having left ventricular hypertrophy are:

  • Race (African-Americans are more often affected)
  • Sex (women with hypertension are more often affected than men)
  • Age (more common in older people)
  • Weight (obesity increases the risk of hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy)
  • Family history (certain genetic conditions)
  • Diabetes



As left ventricular hypertrophy changes the structure of the heart and its working, the enlarged left ventricle can become weak, stiff and less elastic what prevents the chamber to fill in properly and increase pressure in the heart. It also compresses the coronary arteries and restricts the supply of blood. These changes can bring to some of the following complications:

  • Interrupted blood supply to the heart
  • Heart failure to pump enough blood
  • Lack of oxygen supply
  • Arrhythmia
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Enlargement of a part of the aorta



The treatment for left ventricular hypertrophy will differ depending on the cause. It can be with medications or surgery. Also, lifestyle changes, such as regular exercises, low-sodium and low-fat diets and quitting smoking, are usually recommendable. The doctor may also recommend some blood pressure medications that help prevent further enlargement of the left ventricle or shrink the hypertrophic muscles. If a person has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, the treatment for this condition will help reverse left ventricular hypertrophy. This sleep disorder is treated with a machine which provides continuous positive airway pressure that makes it possible for the person to get the sufficient amount of oxygen needed to keep the normal level of blood pressure. If the ventricular hypertrophy is caused by aortic valve stenosis a surgery might be required in order to repair or replace the narrow valve.

Lifestyle changes that should be considered are:

  • Losing weight
  • Eating food without salt added
  • Drinking alcohol moderately (or not at all)
  • Exercising regularly



Maintaining healthy and normal blood pressure is the best way to prevent left ventricular hypertrophy, so managing the blood pressure better by:

  • Monitoring high blood pressure (frequent checks with home device for measuring blood pressure)
  • Having time to exercise or walk for at least 30 minutes most of the days of the week
  • Caring what to eat (avoiding foods high in fat and salt and eating more fruits and vegetables)
  • Giving up smoking