This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
According to Deadline, the 28-year-old died in New York City on Feb. 19, though a cause of death was not revealed at the time.
The Panettiere family released a statement on Monday, sharing that Jansen died from an "enlarged heart."
“Though it offers little solace, the Medical Examiner reported Jansen’s sudden passing was due to cardiomegaly (enlarged heart), coupled with aortic valve complications,” the family told ABC News.
"His charisma, warmth, compassion for others and his creative spirit will live forever in our hearts and in the hearts of all whom he encountered."
What is cardiomegaly?
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, cardiomegaly, also known as an enlarged heart is considered "an increase in the size of the heart."
Although not strictly a disease on its own, it is a sign that another health condition is affecting your heart. Some conditions such as pregnancy cause a temporary increase in demand on the circulatory system, while others can thicken the heart wall muscle or stretch out the heart chambers (dilate) which makes the heart larger.
Cardiomegaly can be caused in one of two ways. The first is through dilatation, where the walls of the heart become thin, stretch out and weaken; or hypertrophy, when the heart walls thicken causing the heart to become less efficient.
Conditions that damage the heart can lead to heart failure, an issue that currently affects more than 750,000 people in Canada. It's estimated that an additional 100,000 people are diagnosed with this incurable condition each year.
What are the signs and symptoms of an enlarged heart?
While the condition can be life-threatening, people with cardiomegaly may not have any symptoms until their condition becomes more severe. The symptoms you may experience include:
Shortness of breath
Heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering, or pounding heartbeat)
Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
Rapid exhaustion with physical activity
Who's at risk of an enlarged heart?
Per the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, there are several health conditions that could put you at higher risk of cardiomegaly.
High blood pressure: This means having a blood pressure measurement higher than 140/90 millimeters of mercury.
Heart diseases: Any problem affecting the heart, including coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, cardiomyopathy, previous heart attack, or congenital heart defects may lead to heart enlargement.
Family history: Some types of heart disease run in families. Tell your health care provider if a parent or sibling has a history of a thick, rigid or enlarged heart.
HIV infection: Researchers believe an elevated heart disease risk may be related to chronic inflammation and an unusual stimulation of the immune system triggered by HIV.
Thyroid or kidney disease: Conditions such as thyroid disorders or kidney disease can lead to high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol levels, putting more strain on the heart.
How can I help prevent an enlarged heart?
You can help lower your risk of developing cardiomegaly and other heart diseases by following a heart healthy lifestyle.
For example, not smoking, drinking less alcohol and managing stress can help maintain a healthy heart. Eating a healthy and balanced diet and getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise is also recommended.
Additionally, talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional about being screened for heart disease and how to reduce the risk of developing an enlarged heart.