Cardiomyopathy

Definition

Cardiomyopathy is a chronic disease of an abnormal heart muscle. There are three main types and they are Dilated, Hypertrophic and Restrictive Cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy makes it harder for your heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of the body.

Causes

Often times, it is unknown how it is caused. There are contributing factors and the possible causes are: Long-term high blood pressure, heart valve problems, heart tissue damage from a previous heart attack, chronic rapid heart rate, metabolic disorders, like obesity, nutritional deficiencies, pregnancy, drinking too much alcohol over many years, use of cocaine, amphetamines, or anabolic steroids, use of chemotherapy during cancer treatment, certain viral infections, iron buildup in the heart muscle, and genetic conditions.

Symptoms

Early stages do not show symptoms. Some symptoms would include breathlessness with or without exertion, swelling of legs, ankles and feet, bloating of the abdomen due to fluid buildup, cough, fatigue, irregular heartbeats, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting.

Diagnostic Tests

The doctor will do a physical exam, take a personal and family history, and if there are symptoms, exercise the patient to bring on the symptoms. There is also a chest X-ray, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, cardiac catheterization and biopsy, cardiac MRI, and there may be several blood tests involved.

Incidence

There are about 148 cases per 100,000 persons per year.

How Can it be Prevented?

In many cases, it cannot be prevented. You can reduce the chance of heart failure by avoiding some conditions that contribute to a weak heart. Avoid abuse of alcohol and cocaine. Also, avoid not getting enough vitamins and minerals. Another way to help reduce the disease is to control high blood pressure with diet and exercise.

Risk Factors or Complications

The risk factors include family history, obesity, alcoholism, illicit drug use, cancer treatments, diabetes, Thyroid disorders, and Hemochromatosis. It could lead to heart failure, blood clots, valve problems, and cardiac arrest which could lead to sudden death.

Treatment

The overall goals of treatment are to manage signs and symptoms. For Dilated Cardiomyopathy, some treatment options are Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors which improve the heart's pumping capability, Angiotensin receptor blockers, Beta blockers, Digoxin, and diuretics which are known as water pills. For Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, the options are Septal myectomy which is open-heart surgery, Septal ablation which is when they inject alcohol through a catheter into the artery supplying blood to the heart, Implantable cardioverter- defibrillator, and pacemaker implantation. For Restrictive Cardiomyopathy, a heart transplant is in the patient's best interest.

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