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Updated May 03, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: Hypertrophy is the name given to a thickening of the heart muscle. Hypertrophy most often occurs in response to some form of stress that causes the heart to work harder. The most common causes of hypertrophy are hypertension and aortic stenosis, but any form of heart disease that increases cardiac work can cause hypertrophy.

There is also a form of hypertrophy caused by genetic factors, which is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Hypertrophy can produce diastolic dysfunction and diastolic heart failure.

Hypertrophy of the left ventricle - left ventricular hypertrophy - is frequently referred to as "LVH."

In general, hypertrophy is treated by identifying and treating the underlying cause.

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