Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle, however the exact symptoms and condition of the heart muscle depends on the type of cardiomyopathy of which you are suffering.
It is possible for your cardiomyopathy to be either acquired or inherited through a genetic pre-disposition. Cardiomyopathy can lead to congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias since the weakening of the muscle can affect the heart’s ability to properly pump blood at a large enough or constant rate.
Types of Cardiomyopathy
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – This is the most common type of cardiomyopathy, and approximately 2% of people worldwide have this specific disease. In this type, the heart becomes thicker without any known cause. This prevents the heart from being able to pump enough blood.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy – In this type, the ventricles (usually starting with the left) enlarge and then weaken. This damages the heart’s ability to pump properly.
- Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy – In this type of cardiomyopathy, fatty and/or fibrous tissue replaces muscle tissue in the right ventricle. This interferes with the electrical impulses that regulate your heartbeat.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy – This occurs when ventricles stiffen while the heart maintains its thickness. This prevents the heart from relaxing so that it can fill with blood.
- Unclassified cardiomyopathies – Other types of cardiomyopathy that do not fall in the previous classifications are included under this designation. This includes stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
Causes of Cardiomyopathy
Numerous factors can lead to cardiomyopathy, although the direct cause of the disease has yet to be determined.
Some of these factors include:
- Genetics – If you have a family history of cardiomyopathy, you are also likely to have it.
- Heart conditions – People with heart valve issues, heart tissue damage, high blood pressure, and other heart conditions might suffer from cardiomyopathy.
- Drug/alcohol use
- Metabolic disorders – People with thyroid disease or diabetes (or other metabolic disorders) are at high risk to develop cardiomyopathy.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Cardiomyopathy
In order to determine whether you have cardiomyopathy, your doctor will perform a medical exam on you as well as have you undergo a series of tests. These can include (but are not limited to) blood tests, x-rays, EKGs, and stress tests. You might also undergo a cardiac catheterization, coronary angiography, or myocardial biopsy.
There are numerous ways to treat cardiomyopathy depending on the specific type and severity of your condition. In some instances, your doctor may tell you to change your lifestyle, in others they might decide that a medicinal treatment is necessary. Medicinal treatments can help maintain heartrate at a healthy rhythm, prevent blood clots, or reduce inflammation.
Surgery is also an option depending on your exact diagnosis. For instance, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be treated with an open-heart surgery known as septal myectomy. In other situations, surgery may be used to install a device such as a pacemaker, Cardiac Resynchronization (CRT) Device, Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) , or an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). If necessary, heart transplant is also an option.