When it comes to a person’s overall health, taking care of their health is very important. Part of it is knowing what diseases or conditions can cause heart problems. One of these is called 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.
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.
What are the types of cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is categorized under 5 main types which are dilated, hypertrophic, restrictive, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, and transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy or ATTR-CM.
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.
This is also known as congestive cardiomyopathy. And it can lead to heart failure because it stretches and weakens the heart. This condition results in poor circulation.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM 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.
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.
Heart Failure due to Cardiomyopathy
As the heart’s muscle weakens, it can lead to heart failure. It can also occur when the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body.
Cardiomyopathy can be caused by a number of things, and it can vary depending on which type of cardiomyopathy a person has.
Here are some of the possible causes:
- Damaged heart tissue, usually from a heart attack
- Problems with the valves of the heart
- Sarcoidosis or nodules in the heart
- In the case of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it can be inherited from your parents
In some cases, the exact cause of cardiomyopathy cannot be identified, since the condition can be caused by a number of factors, and cannot be traced to a single cause.
Signs and Symptoms to watch out for
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
- 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
Who is at risk for Heart Failure due to Cardiomyopathy?
The risk of cardiomyopathy can be caused by a number of things. Here are some of the possible risk factors:
- History of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or heart problems in the family
- Being diagnosed with a condition that can damage the heart, such as ischemic heart disease, heart attack, or any inflammation of the heart
- Diabetes can also increase a person’s risk of having cardiomyopathy
- Severe obesity can put a lot of strain on the heart, and this can eventually cause cardiomyopathy
- Use of illicit drugs and anabolic steroids
- Thyroid disease
- Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Heavy and long-term alcohol use can also increase a person’s risk of cardiomyopathy
It would be best to try and avoid any of these risk factors if possible, so that you can minimize the risk of having this disease.
Can heart failure due to cardiomyopathy be prevented?
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 smoke, quitting as soon as possible would greatly lower their 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 Cardiomyopathy, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.