Recently, I read that the human heart is about the size of a fist. I made a fist, looked at it, and pondered. My fist is smaller than my brother’s, but it’s larger than my friend Julia’s.
My brother is larger than me and Julia is smaller—very petite. Those differences made me curious. I wondered about the size of the human heart, and factors that affect it.
I read more and discovered that a man’s heart is generally larger than a woman’s heart and a child’s heart is smaller than an adult’s heart. Body size generally indicates heart size—the heart is proportional to height, weight, and body frame. But some people are born with congenital heart conditions. They sometimes have unusually large or small hearts.
Other factors can also affect heart size:
- Athletic life style can increase heart size. Endurance runners, cyclists, swimmers, and other athletes can have enlarged hearts. Strenuous exercise can expand the heart and make its walls thicker. The increase in size is the heart’s adjustment to physical exertion.
- Health issues can increase heart size. Medical problems—thyroid disease, infection, high blood pressure, anemia, and heart structure abnormalities can enlarge the heart. The strain they can impose makes the heart work harder and increase in size to compensate for the underlying illness.
Many people who have an unusually large or small hearts live normal lives, unaffected by their heart size. Others experience symptoms that affect their health. They require medical support to maximize their heart function.
The heart is a fascinating organ. Isn’t it great that modern medicine takes good care of hearts of all sizes! Please share what you know about heart size.