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Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
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Experience:  Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
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What causes an abnormal heart shadow on a chest xray?

Resolved Question:

what causes an abnormal heart shadow on a chest xray?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN replied 7 years ago.


Thank you for writing in today. When a chest x-ray is taken, the heart shows up like a shadow. An abnormal heart shadow can be caused by a number of things; however, the most common abnormality noted is cardiomegaly. This is essentially an enlarged heart. Cardiomegaly can be caused by a number of problems, such as dilation, ventricular hypertrophy, congestive heart failure, obesity, certain autoimmune disorders, hyperthyroidism, and so on. At this point, if you have had a chest x-ray with a questionable heart shadow, I would recommend asking why it is considered abnormal. Again, the most common would be an enlargement. Then, you may want to discuss a plan with your provider about needed evaluation and follow up, perhaps with a cardiologist. Also, discuss it with your primary provider, he/she may actually have some insight, based on your medical history. At this point, don't let this information alarm you. An abnormal heart shadow does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong. It just means that it should be investigated a bit further. I hope this helps. If you have any additional questions or need clarification, please let me know. Lisa

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