What is Hypertrophy?

In principle, hypertrophy can occur in all organs of the human body. However, this phenomenon does not always have to be visible externally if internal organs are affected.

What is hypertrophy?

The causes of hyperplasia are known to be increased stress on the entire organism or on specific individual organs, as well as hormonal influences. For example, breastfeeding an infant increases the size of a woman’s breasts.┬áSee AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Hypertrophy.

The word hypertrophy is composed of two parts. The syllable hyper means over or more, the word part trophein means to absorb, to nourish.

In the case of hypertrophy, there are physiological, healthy and pathological forms. In any case, hypertrophy is always based on an increase in tissue volume. With hyperplasia, the organism reacts to a change in requirements or there are pathological conditions that stimulate forced cell growth.

Under certain physiological conditions, hyperplasia can be associated with tissue reduction at the same time. If the trigger for the hyperplasia is missing, the increase in size returns to its original state.


The causes of hyperplasia are known to be increased stress on the entire organism or on specific individual organs, as well as hormonal influences. An increased performance requirement on the physique can cause hypertrophy, which is expressed, for example, in an increase in muscle mass or heart volume.

A woman’s breasts can also enlarge under certain conditions, such as breastfeeding an infant. However, hypertrophies in organs, which are referred to as pseudo- and compensatory hypertrophy, are not healthy.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The main hallmark of hypertrophy is the increase in size of a particular organ through enlargement of the corresponding tissue cells. This increase in size can be both physiological and pathological. Pathological hypertrophies include right heart hypertrophy, left heart hypertrophy, individual forms of muscle hypertrophy, mammary hypertrophy or pyloric hypertrophy.

In the case of right ventricular hypertrophy, non-specific symptoms usually occur. Dizziness, tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmia or chest pain may occur. A so-called liver congestion, edema and jugular vein congestion indicate decompensated right heart failure. The main symptom of left ventricular hypertrophy is shortness of breath on exertion.

The symptoms of angina pectoris occur with chest pain and the risk of developing a heart attack. In addition, cardiac arrhythmias and chronic cardiac insufficiency often occur. Muscle hypertrophy is characterized by the increase in externally visible muscle mass as a result of muscle training.

However, there are also forms of so-called pseudohypertrophy, in which the skeletal muscle enlarges with a simultaneous loss of strength due to muscle breakdown. In certain diseases with muscle breakdown, the actual muscle mass is compensated by increasing the fat and connective tissue. Mammary hypertrophy is an oversized female breast, which can lead to shoulder and back pain due to its mass.

At the same time, there is incorrect loading of the spine. Pyloric hypertrophy, in turn, is characterized by an enlargement of the circular muscles at the outlet of the stomach. This can lead to constant vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, constipation and life-threatening metabolic alkalosis.

Diagnosis & History

In the case of compensatory hypertrophy, there is an additional increase in tissue in an organ, which enlarges as a result. The cause of the hyperplasia lies in a loss of performance in another organ. Its function is taken over and hypertrophy develops. A classic example is the enlargement of the heart valves when there is a heart defect. If a kidney loses function, the remaining excretory organ enlarges to compensate for the deficit.

Pseudohypertrophy occurs when growths appear on individual organs. These growths do not improve the performance of the organ, but simply lead to an increase in volume. These phenomena are usually clearly visible and even palpable. As a rule, these growths, characterized by hyperplasia, do not take on any additional tasks.

Depending on the location of a hyperplasia, there are different diagnostic options. In addition to the external and visual assessment, the “inward” looking devices are among the most important tools. In addition to the ultrasound and X-ray-supported devices, nuclear spin and computer tomography are appropriate. Hypertrophy can also be detected endoscopically.


In many cases, hypertrophy is not recognized until late because there are no direct symptoms or visible changes. In most cases, the tissue of an organ in the patient’s body enlarges. This enlargement can lead to various complications and complaints. If the hypertrophy occurs in the heart, a heart defect can occur, which in the worst case can lead to death.

If the kidney is affected by hypertrophy, it can lead to renal insufficiency without treatment, so that the affected person is dependent on a transplant or on dialysis. The sufferer feels weak and generally ill. As a rule, hypertrophy is discovered and diagnosed by chance. There are no complications with the treatment itself. In the case of tumors, chemotherapy is used.

If an inflammation has occurred, this is fought with the help of antibiotics, which results in a positive course of the disease relatively quickly. Complications only arise when the hypertrophy remains undetected for a long time and has a negative effect on certain organs. In this case, life expectancy can also be reduced.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor should be consulted as soon as the affected person has a general feeling of illness. The course of the disease of hypertrophy is insidious and is often not noticed until late. The symptoms are mostly diffuse and lead to a slow increase in discomfort over a long period of time. As soon as the affected person notices the changes in their health, a doctor’s visit is necessary.

If the performance level decreases continuously, if the affected person increasingly experiences a loss of quality of life or if he can no longer sufficiently fulfill his usual everyday obligations, a check-up is advisable. In the case of sleep disorders, inner restlessness or general weakness, a doctor is required. If there is an increase in body size despite sufficient exercise and a healthy diet, it is advisable to consult a doctor. If no high-calorie food is consumed, an increase in body fullness is an indication of an existing disease that needs to be treated.

If irregularities in digestion or urination occur, a doctor should be consulted. If pain, problems with kidney function or emotional abnormalities occur, it is advisable to consult a doctor. If the amount of urine changes or if there is an increased need for liquid, a doctor must be consulted. If you have a fever, pressure in the chest, circulatory disorders or breathing problems, a doctor should examine and treat the symptoms. Without medical care, life-threatening situations can arise.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of hypertrophy depends on various factors. In the case of hypertrophy, these are its position, the type of tissue cells and the extent. Not all hypertrophies are limited to the heart, but can also affect the bones.

As a rule, special drugs are used to treat pathological hyperplasia, which can result in stagnation of growth and slow regression. A variety of hypertrophies can be affected by the use of hormones or nuclear medicine with radiation or chemotherapy.

The administration of antibiotics is also not entirely unreasonable in the case of hypertrophy. This measure has proven itself, for example, in the treatment of prostate hypertrophy caused by a benign tumor. Hypertrophy of the salivary glands can be reduced by dispensing synthetic saliva in combination with appropriate drugs.

If there is hyperplasia of the skin, which is characterized by cosmetically disturbing skin expansions, surgical interventions are planned to remove this excess.


In itself it is the case that hyperplasia can hardly be prevented, because most tissue growth arises from diseases. Since the hyperplasia can also have malignant components, cancer screening makes sense.

These prophylaxis are also recommended for hyperplasia in the breasts in the form of breast cancer. If inflammatory processes occur that do not recede on their own, well-founded medical therapy should be carried out to avoid hyperplasia.

Healthy hyperplasia such as obesity, an increase in breast tissue during breastfeeding or an increase in the size of the heart or muscle areas does not have to be prevented up to a certain extent. The healthy organism regulates this hypertrophy independently.


The hypertrophy requires follow-up care, which should prevent further complaints and enable a positive course. In the phase after the treatment, regular medical examinations are necessary. When taking the prescribed medication, patients must ensure that they use and dose it correctly. You get the basis for this from your doctor.

If you have any problems or specific questions, you should always contact the doctor. Basically, it is important that those affected do not overload their heart. Physical stress should therefore be avoided as far as possible. The doctor explains exactly which activities are still allowed and where changes to previous habits need to take place.

During the period of regular examinations, the doctor monitors the heart rhythm and advises the patient on other options. Sometimes an operation is necessary, as a result of which the symptoms should decrease significantly. After this procedure, the patient needs a lot of rest and should avoid strenuous activities for a longer period of time.

Everyday life with self-help measures follows the recovery time. Gentle endurance exercise and sufficient relaxation will gradually improve your state of health. Suitable activities are moderate Nordic walking, cycling and swimming.

You can do that yourself

In the case of hypertrophy, the person affected unfortunately has no special options for self-help. In any case, this disease must be treated by a doctor in order to avoid premature death of the patient or further complications.

In most cases, drugs are used that can reduce the symptoms of the disease. However, the disease can also occur as part of the side effects of other therapies, so that direct treatment is not possible here. In the case of skin complaints, caring ointments or creams can be used in the first place, although most of those affected have to undergo surgery to completely relieve these symptoms. The formation of scars can also be avoided through early treatment and adequate care.

In many cases, talking to other affected people or to a psychologist can also help with hypertrophy, since many sufferers develop depression or other mental health problems. Of course, conversations with your partner or with your own family are also suitable for this. Especially the support of the closest people can have a positive effect on the course of the disease and on the patient’s condition.