cardiomyopathy (kahr-dee-o-my-op-uh-thee) is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it hard for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure.
The main types of cardiomyopathy include dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Treatment, which may include medications, surgically implanted devices, heart surgery, or, in severe cases, a heart transplant, depends on the type of cardiomyopathy and its severity.
There may be no signs or symptoms in the early stages of cardiomyopathy. But as the condition progresses, signs and symptoms often appear, including:
- shortness of breath with activity or even at rest
- swelling of legs, ankles and feet
- swelling of the abdomen due to fluid buildup
- cough at bedtime
- difficulty lying down to sleep
- heartbeats that feel fast, pounding, or fluttering
- chest discomfort or pressure
- dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
- long-term high blood pressure
- damage to heart tissue from a heart attack
- long-term fast heart rate
- heart valve problems
- covid-19 infection
- certain infections, especially those that cause inflammation of the heart
- metabolic disorders, such as obesity, thyroid disease, or diabetes
- lack of essential vitamins or minerals in the diet, such as thiamin (vitamin b-1)
- pregnancy complications
- accumulation of iron in the heart muscle (hemochromatosis)
- the growth of small lumps of inflammatory cells (granulomas) anywhere in the body, including the heart and lungs (sarcoidosis)
- the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the organs (amyloidosis)
- connective tissue disorders
- drinking too much alcohol over many years
- use of cocaine, amphetamines or anabolic steroids
- use of some chemotherapy drugs and radiation to treat cancer
dilated cardiomyopathy. In this type of cardiomyopathy, the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, becomes enlarged (dilated) and cannot pump blood effectively out of the heart heart.
Although this type can affect people of all ages, it occurs most often in middle-aged people and is more likely to affect men. the most common cause is coronary artery disease or a heart attack. however, it can also be caused by genetic changes.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This type involves an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, making it harder for the heart to work. It primarily affects the muscle of the heart’s main pumping chamber (left ventricle).
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can develop at any age, but the condition tends to be more severe if it occurs during childhood. most people with this type of cardiomyopathy have a family history of the disease. Some genetic changes have been linked to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy. In this type, the heart muscle becomes stiff and less flexible, so it cannot expand and fill with blood between heartbeats. This less common type of cardiomyopathy can occur at any age, but it affects older people more often.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy can occur for no known reason (idiopathic), or it can be caused by a disease in another part of the body that affects the heart, such as amyloidosis.
- Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia. In this rare type of cardiomyopathy, the muscle of the lower right heart chamber (right ventricle) is replaced by scar tissue, which can cause heart rhythm problems. it is often caused by genetic changes.
- Unclassified cardiomyopathy. Other types of cardiomyopathy fall into this category.
- family history of cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and sudden cardiac arrest
- long-term high blood pressure
- conditions that affect the heart, including a previous heart attack, coronary artery disease, or an infection in the heart (ischemic cardiomyopathy)
- obesity, which makes the heart work harder
- long-term alcohol misuse
- use of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines, and anabolic steroids
- treatment with certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation for cancer
- thyroid disease
- storage of excess iron in the body (hemochromatosis)
- connective tissue disorders
- heart failure. the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Without treatment, heart failure can be life-threatening.
- blood clots. Because the heart cannot pump effectively, blood clots can form in the heart. if clots enter the bloodstream, they can block blood flow to other organs, including the heart and brain.
- Heart valve problems. Because cardiomyopathy causes the heart to enlarge, the heart valves may not close properly. this can cause blood to flow backwards into the valve.
- Cardiac arrest and sudden death. Cardiomyopathy can trigger irregular heart rhythms that lead to fainting or, in some cases, sudden death if the heart stops beating effectively.
- avoid the use of alcohol or cocaine
- control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
- eat a healthy diet
- exercise regularly
- get enough sleep
- reduce your stress
Signs and symptoms tend to get worse unless treated. in some people, the condition worsens rapidly; in others, it may not get worse for a long time.
when to see a doctor
Consult your health care provider if you have one or more signs or symptoms associated with cardiomyopathy. Call 911 or your local emergency number if you have severe shortness of breath, fainting, or chest pain that lasts more than a few minutes.
Some types of cardiomyopathy can be passed from parents to children (inherited). if you have the condition, your health care provider might recommend that you check your family members.
The cause of cardiomyopathy is often unknown. in some people, however, it is the result of another condition (acquired) or passed on from a parent (inherited).
Certain health conditions or behaviors that can lead to acquired cardiomyopathy include:
types of cardiomyopathy include:
There are several things that can increase your risk of cardiomyopathy, including:
many diseases also increase the risk of cardiomyopathy, including:
cardiomyopathy can cause serious complications, including:
In many cases, there is no prevention for cardiomyopathy. tell your health care provider if you have a family history of the condition.
You can help reduce your risk of cardiomyopathy and other types of heart disease by leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, including:
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