What Are the Basics of Cardiomyopathy?

What is the definition of cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of heart muscle which makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure.

It can be divided into the following main types: dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, restrictive cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasis, and other unclassified cardiomyopathy.

There are many causes of cardiomyopathy, but the major cause should be the weak heart which can’t maintain a normal ejection fraction or cardiac output.


What causes cardiomyopathy?

Exact causes of cardiomyopathy are unknown, which may either be the result of another condition (acquired condition), or be passed from a parent. The acquired conditions may include:

  • Heart valve problems
  • Long-term high blood pressure
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Hemochromatosis (Iron buildup in heart muscle)
  • Amyloidosis (Buildup of abnormal proteins)
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Chronic rapid heart rate


What are the symptoms of cardiomyopathy?

There may be no symptoms or sighs at the early stages of cardiomyopathy. When condition progresses, symptoms appear, which are:

  • Cough while lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness and fainting
  • Chest discomfort or pressure
  • Swollen legs, ankles and feet
  • Breathlessness even at rest
  • Abdomen bloating
  • Rapid heartbeat


Do you get cardiomyopathy?

In order to diagnose whether you have cardiomyopathy or not, the doctors may firstly conduct a physical examination and ask about your family medical history.

If they think you have cardiomyopathy, they may conduct the following tests to confirm diagnosis, which include:

Cardiac Catheterization:
Insert a thin tube into your groin and thread through your blood vessels to your heart, and then extract a small sample of your heart for analysis in the laboratory.

Chest X-Ray:
An image will show whether your heart is enlarged or not.

Blood Tests:
Several blood tests may be done to check the functions of your kidney, thyroid and liver, thus measuring your iron levels.

Cardiac CT Scan:
An X-ray tube rotate around your body and collects images of your heart and chest, thus assessing the heart size and function and heart valves.

Cardiac MRI:
Use magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG):
Attach electrode patches to your skin to measure electrical impulses from your heart, which will show the disturbances in your heart, and thus detecting abnormal rhythms and areas of injury.


How to treat cardiomyopathy?

Treatments for cardiomyopathy vary from type to type, but the common treatments include:

Surgically Implanted Devices:
Several types of devices can be planted in the heart to improve its function and alleviate symptoms, such as ventricular assist device (VAD), pacemaker, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), etc.

Several medications may be prescribed by doctors to improve your heart’s pumping ability, lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, remove excess fluid, prevent blood clots, etc.

Several types of surgeries may be used to treat cardiomyopathy, such as septal myectomy, heart transplant, etc.

Nonsurgical Procedures:
Several types of nonsurgical procedures may be used to treat cardiomyopathy or arrhythmia, such as septal ablation, radiofrequency ablation, etc.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.