What is cardiomyopathy?

Cardiomyopathy is a progressive condition that affects the myocardium or heart muscle. In most cases, the heart muscle becomes weak and could not pump blood to the entire body normally. There are various types of cardiomyopathy triggered by different factors. Medical treatment and follow-up care are vital in preventing heart failure or other complications.

Risk factors

Cardiomyopathy can affect individuals of all ages. The main risk factors include the following:

  • Family history of cardiomyopathy, heart failure or sudden cardiac arrest
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Severe obesity
    cardiomyopathy

    Shortness of breath especially during physical exertion or exercise is one of the indications.

  • Amyloidosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Heart attack
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Alcoholism
  • Long-standing high blood pressure

What are the indications of cardiomyopathy?

The indications of all forms of cardiomyopathy are strikingly similar. In all cases, the heart could not sufficiently pump blood to the bodily tissues and organs which can result to symptoms such as:

  • Generalized weakness and fatigue
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Shortness of breath especially during physical exertion or exercise
  • Fainting episodes
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Edema or swelling of the ankles, feet and legs

Management

The treatment is based on the severity of damage to the heart and the resulting symptoms.

Some cases do not require treatment until the symptoms arise. Others who are starting to struggle with chest pain or breathlessness might make the necessary lifestyle adjustments or take medications.

Cardiomyopathy could not be reversed or cured, but can be controlled with the following options:

  • Medications including those used to manage high blood pressure, prevent blood clots, prevent water retention, keep the heart beating normally and reduce inflammation
  • Lifestyle changes that are beneficial to the heart
  • Surgery
  • Devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators
  • Heart transplant as the last resort

The objective of treatment is to keep the heart as efficient as possible as well as preventing further damage and loss of function.

Cardiomyopathy can be a life-threatening condition and can shorten the life expectancy if significant damage occurs early. As a progressive disease, it worsens over time. With the help of treatment, it can prolong the life of the individual.

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