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Heart Muscle Disease (Cardiomyopathy)
Posted on Dec 30, 2013
Cardiomyopathy is a serious medical condition of the heart. In this, the heart muscles become weak or inflamed. Due to this, heart does not function the way it should, therefore hindering the pumping of blood. Eventually, this can lead to cardiac arrest or heart failure.

Cardiomyopathy may also classify as primary, in this there is no prominent cause. It is also classified as secondary in which Cardiomyopathy may happen due to a cause. The cause can be congenital heart disease, heart valve disease, viral infections, hypertension, coronary artery disease etc.

Causes of Cardiomyopathy:
As discussed, Cardiomyopathy may be classified as primary or secondary. If anything leads to developing the condition of Cardiomyopathy, it may be called “Secondary Cardiomyopathy”. Some possible causes of Cardiomyopathy are :
  • Condition of Chronic high blood pressure
  • History of any previous heart attacks – that leads to damaging of heart muscles. The damaged heart muscle can be a prime cause of Cardiomyopathy.
  • Problems related to Heart Valves.
  • Viral myocarditis caused by certain viral infections.
  • Habit of excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Some Nutritional deficiencies.
Dilated (Congestive) Cardiomyopathy:
In Cardiomyopathy, it may be the most common form. In dilated cardiomyopathy, the cavity becomes dilated which means enlarged and its ability to pump blood reduces significantly. Many patients with prolonged dilated cardiomyopathy may have high risk of heart failure. Abnormal heart rhythm disorder may also develop with prolonged dilated cardiomyopathy condition.

The blood flow is very slow and next to nothing in an area in the chambers of dilated heart. This is better known as stasis. This makes the formation of a blood clot, which is termed as thrombus. If the thrombus is pressurized out of the heart because of accumulation of blood due to blood clotting, it may cause a stroke or similar ischemic conditions.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
This is the type of cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscles are enlarged and thickened abnormally. The size of Heart chambers are reduced due to the abnormal thickening of the heart muscles. This may hinder the function of pumping blood and its supply to the body.

In some cases, the blood flow is hindered because of thickening of the wall also called septum between the two ventricles. This condition or syndrome may also be called as Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy. This syndrome has also been known by another name called Asymmetric Septal Hypertrophy. Besides hindering the blood flow, the thickened or the enlarged wall sometimes distorts one leaflet of the mitral valve. This may cause it to leak and need immediate medical treatment.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy:
The Restrictive Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscles become rigid and less flexible. This reduces the capacity of the heart to expand adequately.

Symptoms:
Symptoms of Cardiomyopathy:

A patient who is suffering from cardiomyopathy may not experience any specific symptoms at all. However, in advancing stage of this condition, a patient may experience the symptoms listed below. If the condition is not treated timely, it may get worse.
  • Breathlessness or shortness of breath – this could be at the time of rest or during any physical activity.
  • Fatigue
  • Prominent swelling observed in feet, ankles and legs
  • Patient may experience giddiness and lightheadedness
  • Falling unconscious or Fainting spells
  • Palpitations – heart rhythm may go high or fluctuate.
Treatments:
Treatments suggested for ‘Cardiomyopathy’:
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Eating a nutritious diet that includes fresh fruits, vegetables etc. are very important. Saying “NO” to smoking, drinking, or drugs is another important step to adapting a healthy lifestyle.
  • Medication:  A regular medication and follow up with your doctors is paramount in this condition.
  • Surgery: In advanced stages, your cardiologist may recommend the surgical treatment too.
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