What is Cardiomyopathy?
Cardiomyopathy is a heart muscle disorder that can lead to heart failure.
While there is no cure for cardiomyopathy, there are treatments available that can help to improve the patient’s quality of life and prolong their life.
Signs and symptoms
Some forms of cardiomyopathy may present no symptoms at all. Others may cause mild to severe cardiomyopathy signs and symptoms.
Some cardiomyopathy symptoms include:
- Fainting, lightheadedness, and dizziness
- Chest pressure or discomfort
- Cough while lying down
- Bloating of the abdomen
- Swelling of the legs
- Breathlessness with activity or rest
- Palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Swelling in the ankles, calves, or legs
Severe symptoms include chest pain, fainting, and difficulty breathing. A patient experiencing these symptoms requires immediate medical attention.
Types of cardiomyopathy
Here’s a quick overview of the most common cardiomyopathy types:
- Dilated cardiomyopathy: When one of the lower heart chambers (ventricles) becomes enlarged, it is called dilated cardiomyopathy. More prevalent in males than females, dilated cardiomyopathy may or may not be genetic. Other causes can be pregnancy complications, alcohol or drug abuse, and nutritional deficiency. There is, however, no specific cause.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: This is a rarer form of cardiomyopathy, and it occurs when the left ventricle thickens. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can block the flow of blood to other parts of the body. It can also cause blood to leak through the heart valve.
- Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy: Often inherited and prevalent in males, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy can cause irregular heartbeats.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy: The rarest type of cardiomyopathy, it is characterised by stiff heart muscles.
- Unclassified cardiomyopathy: All other cardiomyopathy types fall in this category.
While the exact cause is still unknown, several possible factors may contribute to this condition’s development.
Listed below are some of the cardiomyopathy risk factors:
- Coronary heart disease
- Thyroid diseases
- Alcohol or cocaine abuse
- Infections of the heart muscle
- Connective tissue disease
- Family history of cardiomyopathy
- Muscle dystrophy
- Pregnancy complications
- Autoimmune diseases
- Conditions that damage the heart muscle, including sarcoidosis, hemochromatosis, and high cholesterol diseases
- Lack of essential minerals and vitamins
- Endocrine conditions
- Radiation treatment and chemotherapy drugs
- Buildup of abnormal proteins (amyloidosis)
- Buildup of iron in the heart muscles (hemochromatosis)
- Metabolic disorders such as diabetes
- Heart valve problems
- Damage sustained by heart tissue after a heart attack
- Long-term high blood pressure
While there is no cure for cardiomyopathy, early diagnosis and treatment can help improve the outlook for patients.
A cardiomyopathy diagnosis can be a scary thing. But with the right treatment and support, the patient can manage this condition and live a long, healthy life. Regular checkups are key to managing the condition.
Doctors at CK Birla Hospital may use the following cardiomyopathy diagnostic methods.
- Ambulatory monitoring: This method involves tracking the patient’s medical condition outside a traditional hospital or clinical setting using ambulatory monitors. It allows patients to be mobile while still being monitored for cardiomyopathy.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): An electrocardiogram, or ECG, is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart.
- Echocardiogram: The test is also called an ultrasound of the heart, cardiac ultrasound, or echo. It gives your doctor important information about the size and shape of the heart and how well it is pumping.
- Cardiac CT: It is a non-invasive imaging technique that can be used to assess the heart and its surrounding structures.
- Cardiac catheterisation: This diagnostic procedure is used to evaluate the function of the heart. A small tube, called a catheter, is inserted into a vein in the arm and threaded through the chest to the heart.
- Myocardial biopsy: A myocardial biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of heart tissue for examination.
Listed below are the cardiomyopathy treatment options that can improve heart function as well as the patient’s quality of life.
- Medications: Depending on the patient’s condition and prognosis, doctors may prescribe medications to treat underlying conditions, manage symptoms or improve blood flow.
- Devices: Cardiomyopathy treatment may involve the implantation of devices such as defibrillators or pacemakers to treat irregular heartbeats. Other devices, such as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), may improve blood flow.
- Surgery: A heart transplant or open heart surgery may be the only solution for patients if other methods have failed.
There is no way to prevent cardiomyopathy. It’s crucial to get tested and manage the condition if there is a family history of the disease.
However, one can reduce the risk to an extent by doing the following:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Avoiding cocaine and alcohol
- Getting enough sleep
- Reducing stress
- Managing diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Cardiomyopathy is a serious and life-threatening condition. It affects the heart muscle, making it weaker and less able to pump blood.
At CK Birla Hospital, we ensure every patient receives high-quality healthcare of global standards, compassionate medical staff, integrity in timely delivery of customised treatments, in a state-of-the-art clinical infrastructure with multiple services under one roof.