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Enlargement of the Heart

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MUSC Cardiologists

What Causes Enlargement of the Heart?

The heart is a simple organ that acts as a pump circulating blood throughout the body.  When there is an increased demand on the heart because of high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries or a heart attack, it must grow to become a bigger pump.  Although this enlargement may seem to be a good thing, it eventually ends in congestive heart failure. What tells the adult heart to grow bigger under theses conditions is not completely understood.

Researchers at the Gazes Cardiac Research Institute are dedicated to understanding the underlying mechanisms of the adult hypertrophic (enlarged) heart.  Under the direction of Dr. George Cooper, IV, a team of nationally recognized physicians and scientists are studying the problem in the laboratory.  Their research, published recently in the American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, support the notion that one of the results of this heart enlargement are changes in so called “microtubules” within heart cells.  These changes cause abnormal contractions of the heart wall as well as abnormalities of how heart cells grow in response to the increased pressure within the heart chambers. 

In recognition of his research achievements Dr. Cooper recently received the Carl Wiggers Award from the Cardiovascular Section of the American Physiological Society.

The Gazes Cardiac Research Institute is part of the Division of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.

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