The heart is one of our most important organs. Being the primary organ of the circulatory system, the heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. Blood plays the vital role of carrying nutrients to maintain our body’s necessary functions.
The heart’s muscular tissue enables it to “pump” blood. Diseases that affect the heart’s muscular tissue are referred to as cardiomyopathy.
What happens when a person has cardiomyopathy? What are the types of cardiomyopathy? Read on to learn more.
Types of Cardiomyopathy
The different types of cardiomyopathy can differ, especially in the type of damage caused and its location.
Although most experts are unsure about the exact cause of cardiomyopathy, many claim that it can arise due to genetics or even, intense stress. It may also result from another related condition.
There are also certain studies that are looking into how cardiompathy can affect men more severely.
The types of cardiomyopathy are as follows:
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
Dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM is the most prevalent type of cardiomyopathy. It usually starts in the left ventricle, which is the part of the heart in charge of pumping blood throughout the body.
The cardiac muscle in the left ventricle thins out, making the heart chamber bigger.
Eventually, cardiac muscle in the left ventricle as well as the atria will also start to expand. The gradual thinning of the cardiac muscles can weaken the heart.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) causes the myocardium, or heart muscles, to thicken and enlarge.
This usually affects the septum (the wall separating the two bottom chambers of the heart), the ventricles, and the lower chambers of the heart.
There are two types of HCM, namely:
- Obstructive Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: The thickened cardiac muscle can lead to difficulties in pumping blood, and may even keep blood from flowing out of the heart.
- Non-obstructive Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: In some cases, there is no blockage that keeps blood from flowing out. But in non-obstructive HCM, the walls of the heart can harden. This can lead to an undersupply of blood.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) is one of the less common types of cardiomyopathy.
This condition makes the lower chambers of the heart rigid and inflexible. This prevents the ventricles from relaxing.
Although a heart with RCM may be able to contract efficiently, the inability to relax between pumps makes it difficult for the heart to fill up with blood.
RCM can cause fluid build-up in other parts of the body, and may even result in conditions such as enlargement of the atria.
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia, also called ARVD, is when fat or fibrous tissue replaces the heart muscle. This can lead to inefficient contractions. Although rare, ARVD mostly runs in families.
ARVD usually causes heart arrhythmia, which is a disorder that mainly causes irregularities in a person’s heartbeat. If left unmonitored, arrhythmias can cause blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart failure.
Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy
Transthyretin Amyloid Cardiomyopathy or ATTR-CM is a rare, and often underdiagnosed type of cardiomyopathy which occurs when there are deposits of a substance called amyloid protein fibrils in the main chamber of the heart (left ventricle). Amyloid fibrils are misfolded or mutated proteins that build up inside the body.
An accumulation of amyloid fibrils in the heart can cause the walls of the left ventricle to become stiff, making the heart less efficient at relaxing (to fill up with blood) and squeezing blood out of the heart. Amyloid fibrils can build up slowly, which is why ATTR-CM is usually diagnosed among elderly adults.
Screening and Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy
Some types of cardiomyopathy will not cause any symptoms or discomfort even in its advanced stages. This is why it’s important to screen for cardiomyopathy especially if your physician considers you at risk of developing this disease.
People who have a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy may undergo genetic testing, to identify whether or not the condition is related to genetic mutations which can be passed to other family members. This will help families determine whether or not they are at risk as well.
If your doctor suspects that you have cardiomyopathy, they may perform the following tests or procedures in order to arrive at a diagnosis:
- Blood tests.
- CT Scan.
- Chest X-ray.
- Cardiac Catheterization.
- Treadmill stress test.
- Electrocardiogram or an ECG.
Cardiomyopathy is characterized by the thickening, dilation, or enlargement of the myocardium. This heart disease has numerous types which can cause impaired functions of the heart, resulting in serious health consequences such as a cardiac arrest, heart failure, or even death.
It’s best to regularly consult with your doctor if you are concerned about your risk of cardiomyopathy.
Learn more about cardiomyopathy, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.