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Question:

What is meant by 'a heart that has shifted sideways'?

My wife said her doctor told her that her heart was shifted sideways? What does this mean? 

submitted by Dale from Illinois on 12/10/2011

Answer:

by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Benjamin Y. Cheong, MD    

Benjamin Y. Cheong, MDThere are a lot of causes for "heart shifted sideways", thus it is wise to ask your doctor more specifically what he/she meant by this. For normal anatomy of the heart, approximately 2/3 of the heart is in the left side of the chest, and 1/3 of the heart is in the right side.  However, the majority of the time, it is just a common/incidental finding without any clinical consequence.

Other potential causes include: 1. Pathology in left or right lung that can cause the heart to shift position; 2. Absence of the lining of the heart (pericardium) can cause the heart to shift toward the left chest; 3. Prior surgery in the chest can cause deviation of the heart position; 4. Position of the heart can also be affected by organs in the abdomen, e.g., a large hernia.

The best action is to discuss with your doctor in more detail.  If it is a finding by chance, and the patient has NO symptoms at all, most likely no further action is needed.  An echocardiography of the heart (ultrasound) or a CT scan could also provide further information, if warranted in an appropriate clinical situation. 

Hope the above helps.         

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Updated December 2011
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Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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