Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that can be hereditary or acquired. This disease affects the heart muscles which in turn makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood and may also lead to heart failure.
The exact cause of cardiomyopathy is often unknown. It can be acquired from another disease or condition or it can be inherited. Some of the possible causes or factors contributing are mentioned here:
- Complications during pregnancy
- Use of alcohol over years
- Illegal use of drugs and smoking over years
- Heart attack
- Damage to heart tissues
- High blood pressure
- Certain drugs used in the treatment of cancer
- Radiation to treat cancer
- Infections that affect the heart
- Buildup of iron in your heart muscles
- Buildup of abnormal proteins
- Sarcoidosis, a condition which causes inflammation to heart and other organs
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Thyroid disorders
- Heart valve problems
Cardiomyopathy may not exhibit any symptoms in early stages. Signs and symptoms appear gradually as the disease progresses.
- Chest pain, discomfort or pressure
- Swollen legs, ankles and/or feet
- Abdominal bloating
- Rapid heartbeats
- Coughing in lying position
Diagnosis of cardiomyopathy can be made based on:
- Physical examination
- Medical history
- Family history
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Treadmill stress test
- Cardiac MRI and CT scan
- Blood tests
- Genetic tests
- Chest X-ray
- Cardiac catheterization
Cardiomyopathy cannot be prevented. The chances of cardiomyopathy and other heart diseases can be reduced by choosing a healthy lifestyle such as:
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid use of alcohol
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Stress management
The treatment of cardiomyopathy mainly involves medications, surgical and non-surgical procedures.
- Medications used in the treatment of cardiomyopathy are used to improve blood flow and pumping ability of heart, reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and to remove excess fluid up or clots from forming.
- Surgical procedures are done to implant devices in the heart to improve its functioning and reduce the symptoms. Devices used include:
- Pacemaker, a small device used to control irregular heart rhythms.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a device which monitors and controls abnormal heart rhythms.
- Ventricular assistive device, a device which assists in circulating blood through your heart.
- Non-surgical procedures include septal ablation and radiofrequency ablation. These procedures are done to allow disrupted blood flow and to treat abnormal heart rhythms.
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