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What is a magnified heart and atheromatous aorta?

I am a 52 yr old female. My x-ray result shows I have a magnified heart, atheromatous aorta..what does it mean? Is it normal? Do I have to take medicines and what kind? Thanks.

Submitted by Sonia from Quezon City, Philippines on 10/07/2015

X-ray is a very useful tool to look at our body, and it can tell us information about our bones, lungs, heart and great vessel (such as the aorta that carries blood from the heart to rest of the body).

The “x-ray” that you mentioned, I presume, will be a chest x-ray (CXR). When the doctors report the x-ray, they will comment on the size of the heart. The doctors assess the heart size by comparing the heart shadow size with the chest size – the rule of thumb is if the heart shadow is 1/2 or less than the chest size, then it is regarded as normal. However, since CXR is a two-dimensional imaging tool, at best it is an estimation. Even how deep the breath that you take during the CXR can have an impact on the heart size.

You should discuss the result with the doctor that ordered the CXR. Was there a particular reason that the CXR was ordered? An enlarged heart could give rise to symptoms such as shortness of breath on exertion, such as after walking up 1 flight of stairs or walking 1 – 2 blocks. If you are healthy, and have no chest pain or shortness of breath on exertion, the likelihood of anything wrong with the heart will be low. If there is any concern, your doctor can order an ultrasound scan scan of the heart to confirm the size of the heart.

The aorta (the big blood vessel that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body) contour will also show up in the CXR. It can appear “lumpy-bumpy” and when there is calcium deposits in the aorta, it can also show up in the CXR. This is part of the aging process, and as long as the aorta size is not enlarged, there is no need for any particular medication.

However, a healthy life-style such as plenty of sleep and exercise, healthy food – more greens, grains, lean white meat, and less processed food, appropriate height and weight for your age group and ethnicity, a normal blood pressure and cholesterol level, cannot be over-emphasize