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When the heart is on the right side instead of the left, what happens?

“The exact cause of dextrocardia is unknown, but it is believed to be related to genetic or developmental factors,” said Dr Nishith Chandra, principal director, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla Road, New Delhi

Let’s deep dive into understanding about dextrocardia (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

A rarest of rare conditions that is known to affect one per cent of the world’s population, according to, is when a person’s heart points to the right side of their chest instead of the left. The congenital condition, called dextrocardia, is considered an abnormality. Experts point out that while the exact cause of dextrocardia is unknown, it is believed to be related to genetic or developmental factors.

According to Dr Abhijit Kulkarni, senior consultant cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru, dextrocardia can also occur in case of a condition called situs inversus which causes many or all visceral organs to be on the opposite side of the body. “In addition to your heart, your liver, spleen, or other organs may also be located on the opposite, or the other side of your body,” Dr Kulkarni told

However, experts suggest that dextrocardia is not life-threatening provided a full body checkup is done to rule out any adversities. “If the overall structural accompaniments are not significant, then it should not be an issue. But overall prognosis needs a more detailed study of the patient’s reports to determine any associated risks,” Dr Kulkarni said.

While most people with dextrocardia lead a normal life, according to Dr Subhendu Mohanty, interventional cardiologist, Sharda Hospital, Noida, since this condition is essentially an abnormal development in the mother’s womb, it can lead to “associated heart deformities in a small percentage of patients”.


Dextrocardia on its own does not usually cause problems, but it tends to occur with other conditions that can have serious effects on the heart, lungs and other vital organs.

Adding, Dr Nishith Chandra, principal director, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla Road, New Delhi, said that the symptoms of dextrocardia may include shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and irregular heartbeat, said

According to Dr Mohanty, such persons can have minor deformities in other organs too. “Hence, anybody with dextrocardia needs to undergo a complete evaluation to rule out any such abnormalities,” he said.

Prevention and management 

Stressing that there is no specific prevention for dextrocardia, Dr Chandra said that as a lifelong condition, it may require ongoing monitoring and management.

“Treatment for dextrocardia depends on the severity of the condition and if there are any underlying heart problems. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary. However, if heart disease or heart failure risk is present, medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery may be recommended,” Dr Chandra

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