Treatment Guidelines For Cardiomyopathy: Causes And Symptoms

Cardiomyopathy is a disease pertaining to heart muscles. In this condition the heart muscles become enlarged and inflamed. As a result the muscles of heart become weak and the heart is not able to pump sufficient amount of oxygenated blood to the body. In cardiomyopathy, the muscles of heart become enlarged, thick and rigid.

Sometimes the damaged tissue is replaced by scar tissue. As the condition progresses, it can lead to heart failure after a period of time.

Cardiomyopathy is classified into dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive form. In majority of cases the cause of caridiomyopathy remains unknown. In some patients the cause can be inheritance, high blood pressure, heart attack, valve problem, alcoholism, obesity, use of illicit drugs etc. Weakness, edema of legs, shortness of breath, palpitation, fainting etc are some of the symptoms of cardiomyopathy.

Treatment includes change in lifestyle, medications, surgery, implanting device. Treatment is aimed to control symptoms, reduce complications, and prevent worsening of the condition. In severe cases, heart transplant may be needed.

Causes And Risk Factors Of Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy can affect people of all age group.

Although in many cases the cause remains unknown, certain risk factors can lead to cardiomyopathy. The risk factors are as follows:

  • Strong history of sudden cardiac arrest and cardiomyopathy. If cardiomyopathy runs in more than one member of family, rest all family members must be checked for any type of cardiomyopathy.
  • Alcoholism is another major factor to contribute cardiomyopathy. It affects all the vital organs of body such as the liver and heart.
  • Viral infection can cause damage to heart muscles. However, the symptoms produced may not be instantaneous. They may appear in the form of cardiomyopathy several years afterwards.
  • Previous history of heart attack. Heart attack damages certain part of heart muscles. This causes weakening and dilatation of the heart.
  • Heart valve problems.
  • It can develop as a complication of pregnancy.
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment for cancer.
  • Excessive buildup of iron in heart muscles.
  • Hypertension for a period of time.
  • Severe obesity
  • Diabetes

Types And Symptoms Of Cardiomyopathy

There are three main types of cardiomyopathy; Dilated, hypertrophic and restrictive cardiomyopathy.

  1. Dilated cardiomyopathy is most common of all types. In this condition the left side of heart called left ventricle becomes enlarged or dilated. Hence the heart cannot pump sufficient amount of blood to rest of the body. Dilated cardiomyopathy results from infection, heart attack, alcohol, illicit drugs etc.
  2. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes thickening of the heart muscles. Problem arises especially when the left ventricle becomes thick. It cannot pump blood to rest of the organs via the aorta. It can occur at any age. Usually the underlying cause is genetic mutation. There is strong family history of cardiomyopathy in such patients.
  3. In the third type called as restrictive cardiomyopathy, the muscles of heart become rigid. Loss of muscle elasticity will lead to restricted pumping of heart. The condition is caused by diseases such as hematochromatois, sarcoidosis, eosinophilic heart disease etc. It is observed more in older people.

All the above types have common symptoms of cardiomyopathy. In the early stage the symptoms may remain subtle and may not be noticeable. However, over a period of time they may develop as follows:

  • Distressful breathing on slight exertion.
  • Swelling of lower leg and face.
  • Swelling of abdomen due to presence of fluid in abdomen. In medical terminology it is called ascitis.
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeats.
  • Chest pain
  • Increased fatigue
  • Cough when sleeping
  • Dizziness

Treatment Guidelines For Cardiomyopathy

There is no way to cure or reverse cardiomyopathy. The treatment goal of cardiomyopathy is to alleviate symptoms, prevent complications and stop the condition from worsening. Few lifestyle changes are also vital for preventing the worsening of disease.

Change in lifestyle:

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat less amount of salt in your diet.
  • Use garlic, spices instead of salt.
  • Avoid or limit drinking alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly

Treatment guidelines:

  1. Patient is given medicines to reduce high blood pressure, prevent and treat retention of water, maintain normal heart rhythm.
  2. Implantation of cardio defribrillator may be necessary to reduce arrhythmias.
  3. Surgery called septal myectomy may be useful in improving the blood flow through the left ventricle.
  4. Heart transplant may be necessary in worse cases of cardiomyopathy.