The left atrium is the chamber located above the left ventricle. An enlarged left atrium can be one of two things: it is most commonly an enlarged chamber, more uncommonly, it can be the walls of the left atrium are enlarged. Either way, you need to know which it is and why you have this diagnoses. If the chamber is enlarged, that means there is a backflow from the left ventricle which is the main pumping chamber of the heart. Have you been diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy? (HCM)
Frequently, an enlarged left atrium is caused by mitral valve insufficiency (valve between left atrium and left ventricle). When blood leaks backward into the left atrium, it increases blood volume and pressure there. The increased blood pressure in the left atrium increases blood pressure in the veins leading from the lungs to the heart (pulmonary veins) and causes the left atrium to enlarge to accommodate the extra blood leaking back from the ventricle.
Valve stenosis (narrow opening) also will increase left atrium due to the gradient pressure between the left atrium and left venticle.
When the underlying condition is not successfully treated an extremely enlarged atrium often beats rapidly in an irregular pattern (a disorder called atrial fibrillation), which reduces the heart's pumping efficiency because the fibrillating atrium is quivering rather than pumping. Consequently, blood does not flow through the atrium normally, and blood clots may form inside the chamber. If a clot breaks loose (becoming an embolus), it is pumped out of the heart and may block an artery, possibly causing a stroke or other damage.
hi, I was just looking up some info and came across a post you participatied in. i have the same issue...left atrial enlargement, and i have been diagonosed with HCM. what does this mean? I know i have some back flow, but until now it hasn't been an issue. how concerned should I be? how is it treated?
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.