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Avatar universal
Slightly enlarged heart

  For the last 8 months I have been treated for cardiomyopathy.
  My ejection fraction is 52% but my heart is still slightly
  enlarged. Is there still a chance to live a long life? If you
  hold your breath during strenous activity(i.e picking up some-
  thing heavy, or during sexual intercourse) could that cause
  ones heart to enlarge? I have never had syptoms of cardiomyopathy
  and I am still syptom free, living a active life. Since the
  EF is near normal does the enlargment still mean the same as if
  I had a low EF?  Thank you for your time. Good Day. Zoe
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Avatar universal

Dear Zoe,
In general and especially in the field of cardiology, patients with only mild forms
of disease (be it coronary artery disease, enlargement of the heart, etc.) have
very good prognosis(a good prognosis in this istance means likely to live a normal, healthy lifestyle-almost unaffected by the disease state)
; actually your prognosis is good simply based on the fact that the abnormality was
discovered in the mild stage which means your treatment and follow-up were started
very early in the disease process which hopefully translates in to it being less likely
that the disease will progress.  I must say now that it is unclear to me and maybe even
your own cardiologist and general physician if this disease state (mild enlargement of the heart)
is actually ongoing.  It is possible that your heart was always slightly enlarged, i.e.since birth, and
it may never progress/worsen such that it causes you any problem.  You should know that most
cases of cardiomyopathy, when discovered, show ejection fractions more in the range of < or = 40%.  
As a matter of fact most cardiologist would not give a person with a 52% ejection fraction the diagnosis of
cardiomyopathy, that is of course unless they knew it was different in the past.  
  Except for cardiomyopathies believed to be induced by a virus, the general consensus is that exercise is one
of the best things for the heart, and its' benefits are long lasting and unobtainable with any particular medication,
especially because exercise improves quality of life.  As long as you are followed regularly by your physician and their
are no other health issues at hand, you should be exercising for at least one hour per day with a goal heart rate of 85%
of your maximum predicted heart rate (220-age).  There are many ways  in and out of the gym to achieve this target heart rate
however it is always best to get the final o.k. from your physician before starting an exercise program.  
The likelihood of holding your  breath causing heart enlargement is nil; if you make a habit of it (holding your breath),
I am sure that is not good for you in general and not just for the heart.  I only am nebulous as such since it
actually is unknown how exactly some cardiomyopathies come about. Finally, no, if your EF is lower, your prognosis worsens
significantly.  Good Luck.  
  Information provided in the heart forum is intended for general medical informational purposes only,
actual diagnosis and treatment canonly be made by your physician(s).      

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