Cardiomyopathy: All You Need to Know

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Update Date 10/07/2020 . 3 mins read
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Types of Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. This can either be due to the heart muscle getting thicker, such as in the case of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or a buildup of scar tissue that interferes with the heart’s regular function. Preventing this condition means knowing the cardiomyopathy causes and risk factors.

As the condition gets worse, the heart can get weaker, which means it pumps less and less blood into the body and has a difficult time maintaining its normal rhythm. This can eventually lead to heart failure.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heart Failure

The Types of Cardiomyopathy

Before we discuss cardiomyopathy causes and risk factors, it’s important to understand the different types of this condition

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM affects the ventricles and the upper and lower chambers of the heart. It is the most common type of cardiomyopathy. DCM occurs when the heart muscle starts to dilate, or stretch, making it unable to pump blood normally.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a type of cardiomyopathy that is hereditary. It occurs when the heart muscles start to become thicker than normal, and as a result, the heart becomes stiff, which limits the amount of blood it can pump throughout the body.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy

This type of cardiomyopathy usually occurs in older people, and happens when scar tissue replaces the muscles of the heart. This makes it stiff and unable to function normally.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or ARVD

This is a rarer type of cardiomyopathy that’s similar to restrictive cardiomyopathy in that it is caused by a buildup of scar tissue. However, ARVD affects the heart’s electrical signals, causing arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat.

Transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM)

ATTR-CM is a type of cardiomyopathy that is caused by a protein called transthyretin. This protein causes the left ventricle to become thick and stiff, making it unable to pump blood normally.

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy

Also known as Broken Heart syndrome, this is an acute type of  stress-induced cardiomyopathy that mostly affects the left ventricle of the heart.

Understanding Stress Cardiomyopathy (‘Broken Heart’ Syndrome)

Signs and Symptoms

Cardiomyopathy in its early stages might not show any symptoms at all. However, as the disease progressively gets worse, someone with cardiomyopathy might experience the following:

  • Feeling out of breath, or tired even when at rest
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Feeling of pressure in the chest
  • Your heartbeat feels like it’s fluttering or beating too fast
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet

To prevent these symptoms, it’s important to know the cardiomyopathy causes and risk factors to watch out for.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment for cardiomyopathy varies depending on the cause and the severity of symptoms. For those who do not experience any symptoms, treatment might not even be required.

However, for those with more pronounced symptoms, here are some common treatments:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as being more active and eating healthier foods might be recommended
  • For people with an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia, medicine to keep the heart’s rhythm normal can be prescribed.
  • Medicine to thin blood or lower blood pressure can also be prescribed.
  • Corticosteroids might also be used to lower the inflammation of the heart.
  • For more severe cases, surgery might be required if the cardiomyopathy cannot be managed through other means.

Here are a number of ways to prevent being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy:

  • Have a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. Try to eat more vegetables, fruits, and fish, and less meat and fatty or processed foods.
  • Engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day in order to stay active and keep your heart healthy.
  • If you are a habitual drinker, it would be best to lower your consumption, or stop drinking completely in order to lower your risk of cardiomyopathy.
  • For those who are smokers, quitting as soon as possible would greatly lower your risk of not just cardiomyopathy, but also heart disease, hypertension, lung cancer, and a host of other diseases.
  • If you are obese or overweight, it would be best to lose weight. Being overweight or obese can put extra strain on your heart, which means it needs to pump harder, and this can potentially make the heart weaker over time.
  • For people whose parents have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it would be best to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and to get regular checkups to keep tabs on the health of your heart.

Learn more about heart health, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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