Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscles. It is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes thick, rigid or enlarged or may get replaced with a scar tissue (but is rare). Worsening of cardiomyopathy can weaken the heart, reducing its ability to pump blood to the body parts. Gradually it can lead to heart failure.
In some people with cardiomyopathy, the symptoms are not evident in the early stages but become visible only after the heart gets compromised. The following symptoms may occur in the patients with cardiomyopathy:
Consult your doctor if you have one or more of the above symptoms for further evaluation.
There are various types of cardiomyopathy as detailed below:
Each of the four types of cardiomyopathy has different causes such as:
The major risk factors for all the types of cardiomyopathy are:
It is important to know your risk factors for early diagnosis because not all the persons with cardiomyopathy have the associated symptoms.
If cardiomyopathy is left untreated, it can lead to the below complications.
Heart failure: It is a life-threatening condition in which the heart cannot pump adequate amounts of blood to the organs of the body.
Cardiac arrest: Cardiomyopathy involves abnormal heart rhythms (either too fast or too slow) which can lead to fainting or sudden death if the heart stops functioning effectively.
Valve problems: In the case of dilated cardiomyopathy, the valves cannot close properly and can lead to a backward flow of the blood.
Blood clots: Due to the inefficiency of pumping blood properly, blood clots form in the heart. If these clots travel to the blood vessels they can lead to stroke (in the brain) and pulmonary embolism (in the lungs).
Your doctor diagnoses cardiomyopathy based on your symptoms, family history, and medical history. Upon getting clues of cardiomyopathy, a physical examination is performed. This involves observing your heart beat and sounds with a stethoscope. Final confirmation is done based on the below diagnostic tests:
|Test type||Purpose of the test|
|Electrocardiogram||Produces electrical impulses to detect any abnormalities in the heart rhythm.|
|Treadmill stress test||
|Cardiac catheterization||To measure the pressure in your heart and to see if any blockages are present in the blood vessels.|
|MRI scan||Used in addition to echocardiography to get images when echocardiogram is not helpful for diagnosis.|
Treatment cannot reverse the condition. The main goal of the treatment is to alleviate your symptoms and prevent the condition from becoming worse. Treatment is based on the extent of damage to the heart.
Medications: Prescribed to treat high blood pressure, maintain normal heart rate, prevent fluid and water retention, prevent clots and reduce inflammation
Surgery: To implant artificial pacemakers and defibrillators
Heart transplantation: It is the last resort and involves replacing the diseased heart with a healthy heart.
Certain lifestyle changes can help in better management of your condition. They are: