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Can one's position while having an EKG cause the heart to appear partially enlarged? 

Is it possible the way the heart is lying that with an EKG, it may appear one side is larger but is not? 

submitted by Melissa from Ft. Worth, Texas on 5/18/2013


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

It is definitely true that the orientation of your heart in your chest can affect the "axis" on the ECG tracing and can lead to a tracing that appears to indicate an enlarged heart relative to a 'normal' tracing. For example, a more vertically oriented heart will have more of the electrical force (vector) pointing rightward and imply right ventricular enlargement. The best test to assess the size of the heart is echocardiography, an ultrasound of the heart. It is simple and non-invasive, inexpensive and usually available in a cardiologist's office. Also, the relative thickness of the chest wall and a patient's age can lead to ECG criteria that can falsely suggest left ventricular enlargement or hypertrophy. Hope this is helpful. 

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Updated May 2013
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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