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Question:

How will an enlarged right heart and stiffness affect my overall health and fitness? 

I am a active normal weight woman in her thirty's. I have been told I have an enlarged right side of heart and I have stiffness in the heart. And I have been told my heart pumps at near 60%. I am a runner so I am in good overall health. What should my cardiologist be telling me could be the problem and how will this change my running?

submitted by Suzanne from Kentucky  on 7/2/2012

Answer:

by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Scott R. Sherron, MD  Scott R. Sherron, MD

The degree of workup would depend on the presence of symptoms and the amount of enlargement and especially on the pressures estimated for the right side of the heart. 60% is a normal value for ejection fraction -- the amount of blood pumped out with each beat relative to the total amount in the heart when full -- and that is a good sign.  The differential diagnosis includes pulmonary hypertension which could be from blood clots to the lung, from underlying lung disease, or a primary abnormality of the blood vessels in the lung. Mild right sided enlargement may also be a normal variant and is somewhat more common in athletes. Stiffness of the heart muscle, presumably of the left ventricle, can be from many causes including high blood pressure, valve problems, or rarely from infiltrative diseases of the heart muscle, but also can be a benign finding if mild and asymptomatic and not progressive. I'm sorry not to be more specific, but much depends on the details of your echo findings.
I hope this is helpful.  I trained in Lexington, KY and could refer you to some experts at the University of Kentucky if you wish. Sincerely.

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Updated July 2012
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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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