Cardiomyopathy, or more specifically, dilated cardiomyopathy, is a condition wherein the heart muscle starts to weaken over time. Researchers recently discovered that men are more likely to die to cardiomyopathy compared to women.
Why is this the case, and what can men do about it?
Men More Likely to Die to Cardiomyopathy
Researchers from the Imperial College London conducted a study to find out if men or women are more likely to die from dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM.
To find the answer, they studied the information from 881 patients with DCM, over a span of five years. In the data they studied, 291 were women, and 591 were men, with a median age of 52.
Here’s what researchers discovered:
- Men are 64% more likely to die to cardiomyopathy compared to women.
- In addition, they discovered that women with DCM had noticeably less scarring compared to their male counterparts. The hearts of the women were also more functional.
- Interestingly, women had a 10% higher risk of developing DCM. And even if their hearts were more functional, they usually suffered more severe symptoms compared to their male counterparts.
- Previous studies have found that men are more prone to heart disease in general, and usually suffer more serious symptoms. This includes atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, dilated cardiomyopathy, and heart failure. On the other hand, women are more prone to having hypertension, which is a known cause of DCM.
According to Dr. Sanjay Prasad, Reader in Cardiology at Imperial College London and Consultant Cardiologist at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust:
“Our research shows that men with DCM are at greater risk of death, compared to women. This insight should encourage doctors to manage male DCM patients more intensively, and better stratify those who should and shouldn’t have more extensive treatment.
“I meet people with DCM every day and I’ve seen it devastate families. That’s what drives me and my team to better understand how the disease develops and find those at the greatest risk of complications.”
Based on their findings, it seems that men need to be more mindful about their heart health compared to women.
Despite women having a higher risk of developing the disease, men seem to be more prone to dying from the disease itself.
What Causes Dilated Cardiomyopathy?
Usually, the cause for DCM is unknown as it is difficult for physicians to pinpoint the exact reason why this happens. However, we do know two major causes of DCM.
Narrowing or blockage in the arteries
If a person’s arteries become narrow, this can eventually cause a blockage in the blood flow going to the heart as well as other parts of the body.
Over time, this reduced blood flow can weaken the heart muscles, and cause dilated cardiomyopathy.
Hypertension is another major cause of dilated cardiomyopathy.
What happens is that if a person suffers from hypertension, the heart starts to pump harder. This in turn, leads to the walls of the heart starting to harden, and can eventually make the heart weaker and lead to DCM.
In addition, chronic hypertension increases the inflammation in a person’s blood vessels. Over time, this can also lead to a narrowing or blockage in the arteries which greatly increases a person’s risk for cardiomyopathy.
However, these are not the only possible causes of DCM.
Here are some of the other possible causes:
- Chronic rapid heart rate
- Tissue damage from a heart attack
- Heart valve problems
- Pregnancy complications
- Certain chemotherapy drugs
- Use of drugs such as cocaine
- Heart inflammation
- Connective tissue disorders
All of these things can potentially cause DCM.
What Are the Risk Factors for DCM?
Here are some of the risk factors for DCM:
- A history of cardiomyopathy in the family
- History of chronic hypertension in the family
- Previously having heart problems, such as a heart attack, a heart infection, or coronary artery disease
- Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland
Knowing these risk factors is important because it lets you know if you are at risk of having DCM.
What Steps Can You Take to Prevent It?
For the most part, it would be very difficult to outright prevent DCM.
However, there are some things that you can do in order to lower your risk:
- Engage in exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. This helps keep your heart healthy, and lowers your risk of heart disease.
- Eat healthy foods. Try to eat more vegetables and fruits, and avoid sugary or fatty foods.
- If you already have hypertension, take steps to keep it under control. Follow your doctor’s orders, and take your medication as prescribed.
- Getting enough sleep is also important. This helps your body rest, and can keep your heart healthy.
- Take steps to lower your stress levels. You can get a massage, take a vacation, or engage in a hobby.
By following these tips, you can significantly lower your risk of DCM as well as heart disease in general.
Learn more about cardiomyopathy, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.