Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. There are three main types of cardiomyopathy — dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive — all of which affect your heart's muscle, often making it difficult to pump blood and deliver it to the rest of your body. There are many causes of cardiomyopathy, including coronary artery disease and valvular heart disease.
Cardiomyopathy can be treated. The type of treatment you'll receive depends on which type of cardiomyopathy you have and how serious it is. Your treatment may include medications, surgically implanted devices or, in severe cases, a heart transplant.
Signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy may include:
- Breathlessness with exertion or even at rest
- Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
- Bloating (distention) of the abdomen with fluid
- Irregular heartbeats that feel rapid, pounding or fluttering
- Dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting
No matter what type of cardiomyopathy you have, signs and symptoms tend to get worse unless treated. In certain people, this worsening happens quickly; while in others, the disease may not worsen for a long time.
Possible Causes Of Cardiomyopathy Include:
- Long-term high blood pressure
- Heart valve problems
- Heart tissue damage from a previous heart attack
- Chronic rapid heart rate
- Metabolic disorders, such as thyroid disease or diabetes
- Nutritional deficiencies of essential vitamins or minerals, such as thiamin (vitamin B-1), selenium, calcium and magnesium
- Excessive use of alcohol over many years
- Abuse of cocaine or antidepressant medications, such as tricyclic antidepressants
- Use of some chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer
- Certain viral infections, which may injure the heart and trigger cardiomyopathy
Tests And Diagnosis
you may need to undergo several tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include:
- Chest X-Ray :- An image of your heart will show whether it's enlarged.
- Echocardiogram :- An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of the heart. Your doctor can use these images to examine the size of your heart and its motions as it beats.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) :- In this noninvasive test, electrode patches are attached to your skin to measure electrical impulses from your heart. An ECG can show disturbances in the electrical activity of your heart, which can detect abnormal heart rhythms and areas of injury.
- Cardiac Catheterization And Biopsy :- In this procedure, a thin tube (catheter) is inserted in your groin and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart, where a small sample (biopsy) of your heart can be extracted for analysis in the laboratory. Pressure within the chambers of your heart can be measured to see how forcefully blood pumps through your heart. Pictures of the arteries of the heart can be taken during the procedure (coronary angiogram) to ensure that you do not have any blockage.
- Blood tests :- One blood test can measure brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), a protein produced in your heart. Your blood level of BNP rises when your heart is subjected to the stress of heart failure, a common complication of cardiomyopathy.
Having cardiomyopathy may produce the following complications:
- Heart Failure :- Heart failure means your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. The thickened, stiffened or weakened heart muscle due to cardiomyopathy can become unable to pump or can obstruct blood flow out of the heart.
- Blood Clots :- Any of the types of cardiomyopathy may make you more susceptible to blood clots in your heart. If clots are pumped out of the heart and enter your circulatory system, they can block the blood flow to vital organs, including your heart and brain. If clots develop on the right side of your heart, they may travel to your lungs. To reduce your risk, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner (anticoagulant medication), such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin).
- Heart Murmur :- Because people with dilated cardiomyopathy have an enlarged heart, two of the heart's four valves — the mitral and tricuspid valves — may not close properly, leading to a backflow of blood. This flow creates sounds called heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are not necessarily harmful, but they should be monitored by your doctor.
- Cardiac Arrest And Sudden Death :- All forms of cardiomyopathy can lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Some of these heart rhythms are too slow to sustain the circulation, and some are too fast to allow the heart to beat properly. In either case, these abnormal heart rhythms can result in fainting or, in some cases, sudden death from a complete cessation of heartbeats, called cardiac arrest.
How Is Restrictive Cardiomyopathy Treated ?
Treatment of this condition is difficult. Treatment is usually focused on treating the cause of this condition. Doctors recommend lifestyle changes and medications to treat heart failure .
What Lifestyle Changes Are Recommended ?
Diet :- Once you have symptoms such as shortness of breath or fatigue, you should restrict your intake of salt (sodium) to 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day. Follow this diet even when your symptoms abate.
Exercise :- Your doctor will tell you if you may exercise or not. While exercise is generally good for the heart, people with this cardiomyopathy may experience fatigue and shortness of breath, even with minimal exertion. Therefore, experts recommend that you take frequent breaks, exercise at a time of day where you have the most energy and start slow, gradually building up strength and endurance. Heavy weight lifting is not recommended.
What Medications Are Used ?
Often, medications are used to treat symptoms and prevent further complications. To manage heart failure, most people improve by taking a beta-blocker , ACE inhibitors , and/or diuretics . If you have an arrhythmia , your doctor may give you Cordarone to control your heart rate or lessen the occurrence of arrhythmias. Your doctor will discuss what medications are best for you.
What Are The Surgical Options ?
In some cases, surgery may be required to improve blood flow to the heart and if severe, a heart transplant may be considered.
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