What Is Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a progressive disease of the myocardium, or heart muscle. In most cases, the heart muscle weakens and is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body as well as it should. There are many different types of cardiomyopathy caused by a range of factors, from coronary heart disease to certain drugs. These can all lead to an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, a heart valve problem, or other complications.

Medical treatment and follow-up care are important. They can help prevent heart failure or other complications.

What Are the Types of Cardiomyopathy?

he most common form, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), occurs when your heart muscle is too weak to pump blood efficiently. The muscles stretch and become thinner. This allows the chambers of your heart to expand.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is believed to be genetic. It occurs when your heart walls thicken and prevent blood from flowing through your heart. It’s a fairly common type of cardiomyopathy.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) is a very rare form of cardiomyopathy, but it’s the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. In this type of genetic cardiomyopathy, fat and extra fibrous tissue replace the muscle of the right ventricle. This causes abnormal heart rhythms.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy is the least common form. It occurs when the ventricles stiffen and can’t relax enough to fill up with blood. Scarring of the heart, which frequently occurs after a heart transplant, may be a cause. It can also occur as a result of heart disease.

Peripartum cardiomyopathy occurs during or after pregnancy. This rare type occurs when the heart weakens within five months of delivery or within the final month of pregnancy. When it occurs after delivery, it’s sometimes called postpartum cardiomyopathy. This is a form of dilated cardiomyopathy, and it’s a life-threatening condition. There’s no cause.

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is due to drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time, which can weaken your heart so it can no longer pump blood efficiently. Your heart then becomes enlarged. This is a form of dilated cardiomyopathy.

Ischemic cardiomyopathy occurs when your heart can no longer pump blood to the rest of your body due to coronary artery disease. Blood vessels to the heart muscle narrow and become blocked. This deprives the heart muscle of oxygen. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is a common cause of heart failure. Alternatively, non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is any form that isn’t related to coronary artery disease.

Noncompaction cardiomyopathy, also called spongiform cardiomyopathy, is a rare disease present at birth. It results from abnormal development of the heart muscle in the womb. Diagnosis may occur at any stage of life.

Who Is at Risk for Cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy can affect people of all ages. Major risk factors include the following:

According to research, HIV, HIV treatments, and dietary and lifestyle factors can also increase your risk of cardiomyopathy. HIV can increase your risk of heart failure and dilated cardiomyopathy, in particular. If you have HIV, talk to your doctor about regular tests to check the health of your heart. You should also follow a heart-healthy diet and exercise program.

What Are the Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy?

The symptoms of all types of cardiomyopathy tend to be similar. In all cases, the heart can’t adequately pump blood to the tissues and organs of the body. It can result in symptoms such as:

What Is the Treatment for Cardiomyopathy?

Treatment varies depending on how damaged your heart is due to cardiomyopathy and the resulting symptoms.

Some people may not require treatment until symptoms appear. Others who are beginning to struggle with breathlessness or chest pain may need to make some lifestyle adjustments or take medications.