Debra Wood, RN
Cardiomyopathy is a heart disease. The damaged heart does not pump blood correctly. The disease usually progresses, and patients develop life-threatening
heart failure. People with cardiomyopathy are also more likely to have irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias.
There are two categories of cardiomyopathy: ischemic and non-ischemic. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is most common. It occurs when the heart is damaged from
coronary artery disease. Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy is less common. It includes types of cardiomyopathy that are not related to coronary artery disease.
There are three main types of non-ischemic cardiomyopathy:
In many cases, the exact cause is not known. Possible causes include:
The cause of the initial damage is often not found, but may include:
Causes may include:
Causes are usually related to another condition, such as:
Factors that increase your chance of getting cardiomyopathy include:
Symptoms vary, depending on the type of cardiomyopathy and its severity.
Cardiomyopathy leads to heart failure and the following symptoms:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your heart. Cardiomyopathies often produce heart murmurs and other abnormal sounds.
Heart failure may be due to blockages in the arteries. Treatments to relieve these blockages include
stent placement, and
coronary artery bypass surgery. These may lead to improved heart function and symptoms. For certain genetic causes, other treatments may also improve heart function. For many patients, however, treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and preventing further damage.
Changes to eliminate anything that adds to the disease or worsens symptoms:
Medications may include:
Surgical options include:
Actively treat hypertension, coronary artery diseases, and their risk factors. This is the best way to prevent most cases of cardiomyopathy. However, other less common causes are not preventable. If you have a family history of the disease, ask your doctor about screening tests. Do this especially before starting an intense exercise program.
American Heart Association
The Cardiomyopathy Association
Heart Rhythm Society
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Braunwald E, Zipes DP, et al.
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Dilated cardiomyopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated February 22, 2012. Accessed January 24, 2013.
Echt DS, Packer D, et al. Multicenter unsustained tachycardia trial.
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Heart Failure Society of America 2010 executive summary of heart failure practice guidelines.
J Card Fail. 2010;16:475-539.
Peripartum cardiomyopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 16, 2012. Accessed January 24, 2013.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 20, 2012. Accessed January 24, 2013.
What is cardiomyopathy? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cm/. Updated January 1, 2011. Accessed January 24, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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