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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter



Dilated Congestive Cardiomyopathy

Dilated congestive cardiomyopathy is a group of heart disorders in which the ventricles enlarge. As a result, the heart is unable to pump enough blood for the body's needs, ultimately resulting in heart failure.

Causes of Dilated congestive Cardiomyopathy

Symptoms of Dilated Congestive Cardiomyopathy

Diagnosis of Dilated Congestive Cardiomyopathy

Prognosis of Dilated Congestive Cardiomyopathy

Treatment of Dilated Congestive Cardiomyopathy

Causes of Dilated congestive Cardiomyopathy

The most common identifiable cause of dilated congestive cardiomyopathy is widespread coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD can lead to inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle. If left uncorrected, that can lead to permanent injury. The healthy heart muscle stretches to compensate for the lost pumping action. When this isn't sufficient to pump enough blood supply due to widespread damage, dilated congestive cardiomyopathy develops.

You can visualize the development of cardiomyopathy thus: Imagine you have a car with a four cylinder engine. Due to poor maintenance, one of the cylinders can quit functioning. Now, the other 3 cylinders will try to compensate for the loss of one cylinder, by working harder. You will see decreased performance, when going up the hill or trying to accelerate. (Just like the shortness of breath when people with cardiomyopathy experiences when they have gone for a strenuous walk or exercise.) In general, the car will run without one cylinder. Now assume that you lost another cylinder. The car's performance now suffers seriously. It may not make up steep hills. Its speed may be quite compromised. The engine may ultimately give up. The overwork results in the other cylinders giving up soon. Again, similar situation exists in people with myocardia. As more heart muscle is damaged, the victim may find it hard to even take part in leisure activities. Unless the heart is replaced by a transplant (analogous to replacing your car engine with a new one), the person may die due to the failure of the heart.

Other Causes of Dilated congestive Cardiomyopathy

  1. Viral Infection: An acute inflammation of the heart muscle  from a viral infection may weaken the heart muscle and produce dilated congestive cardiomyopathy. The most common virus that causes viral cardiomyopathy is a virus called cox- sackie virus B.

  2. Chronic hormonal disorders (such as diabetes and thyroid disease).

  3. Drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, and antidepressants. 
    Alcoholic cardiomyopathy may develop after about 10 years of heavy alcohol abuse.

  4. Pregnancy

  5. Connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Caution: Cardiomyopathy is a life-threatening condition. If you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from cardiomyopathy, seek medical assistance immediately.

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