Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease. The damaged heart does not pump blood correctly. The disease usually progresses, and patients develop life-threatening heart failure . People with cardiomyopathy are also more likely to have irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias . There are two categories of cardiomyopathy: ischemic and non-ischemic. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is most common. It occurs when the heart is damaged from heart attacks due to coronary artery disease . Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is less common. It includes types of cardiomyopathy that are not related to coronary artery disease. There are three main types of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy:

  • Causes

    In many cases, the exact cause is not known. Possible causes include:

  • Definition


    Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease. The damaged heart does not pump blood correctly. The disease usually progresses, and patients develop life-threatening
    heart failure
    . People with cardiomyopathy are also more likely to have irregular heartbeats or
    arrhythmias
    .


    There are two categories of cardiomyopathy: ischemic and non-ischemic. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is most common. It occurs when the heart is damaged from
    heart attacks
    due to
    coronary artery disease
    . Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is less common. It includes types of cardiomyopathy that are not related to coronary artery disease.

    There are three main types of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy:

    • Dilated—Damaged heart muscles lead to an enlarged, floppy heart. The heart stretches as it tries to make up for a weakened ability to pump.
    • Hypertrophic—Heart muscle fibers enlarge abnormally. The heart does not relax correctly between beats. The heart wall thickens, leaving less space for blood to fill the chambers, so less blood is pumped from the heart.
    • Restrictive—Parts of the heart wall stiffen. Thickening often occurs due to abnormal tissue invading the heart.
    Normal Heart and Heart With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
    Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your heart. Cardiomyopathies often produce heart murmurs and other abnormal sounds.


    • Your doctor may need pictures of your chest. This can be done with:

      • Chest x-ray
      • Echocardiogram

    • Tests may be done to determine how your heart functions. These can be done with:

      • Electrocardiogram
      • Cardiac catheterization

    • Your bodily fluids and tissue may need to be tested. This can be done with:

      • Blood tests

      • Heart
        biopsy

  • Prevention

    Actively treat hypertension, coronary artery diseases, and their risk factors. This is the best way to prevent most cases of cardiomyopathy. However, other less common causes are not preventable. If you have a family history of the disease, ask your doctor about screening tests. Do this especially before starting an intense exercise program.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of getting cardiomyopathy include:

    • Family members with cardiomyopathy
    • Alcoholism
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Hypertension
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Certain drugs

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms vary, depending on the type of cardiomyopathy and its severity.

    Cardiomyopathy leads to heart failure and the following symptoms:

    • Fatigue
    • Weakness
    • Shortness of breath, often worse when lying down or with activity
    • Cough
    • Swelling in feet or legs
    • Chest pain
    • Irregular heart rhythm

  • Treatment


    Heart failure may be due to blockages in the arteries. Treatments to relieve these blockages include
    angioplasty
    ,
    stent placement
    , and
    coronary artery bypass surgery
    . These
    may lead to improved heart function and symptoms. For certain genetic causes, other treatments may also improve heart function. For many patients, however, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and preventing further damage.