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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter



Introduction to Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the death of heart muscle results in the ultimate heart failure. The heart muscle tissue, known as the myocardium, becomes inflamed, scarred and fibrous. The walls of the heart may become thick and hard or thin and weak. The heart may enlarge and become inefficient in pumping blood. So it start beating faster, trying to play catch up.

People with cardiomyopathy may suffer from shortness of breath (breathless) when they are active. Sometimes, depending on the severity of their conditions, they may suffer from shortness of breath when they are not doing anything. They may tire easily, develop ankle swelling and may suffer from chest pains.

Compared with coronary heart disease, the most common form of heart disease, cardiomyopathy is rare.

No satisfactory treatment is available to treat cardiomyopathy except for heart transplant. Drugs are useful to provide some relief by reducing demands on the heart. Mind body medicine and nutritional therapy may be useful in stabilizing or even reversing the condition.

Cardiomyopathy can be caused by many known diseases. However, in some cases, it may have no identifiable cause.

Cardiomyopathy can be caused by fat-clogged arteries. But it does not have to be. It may be caused by a virus or another type of infection, such as Lyme disease or AIDS; an inherited metabolic disorder; exposure to toxic chemicals such as cobalt, lead or carbon monoxide; sensitivity to commonly used drugs; toxins such as alcohol or cocaine; or heart damage caused by a disease such as diabetes.

Poor nutrition also may play a role in the development of some forms of cardiomyopathy or in worsening its symptoms.

Depending on the cause, the cardiomyopathy can be classified under:

Dilated Congestive Cardiomyopathy - A group of heart disorders in which the ventricles enlarge but aren't able to pump enough blood for the body's needs, resulting in heart failure.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - A group of heart disorders in which the walls of the ventricles thicken.

Restrictive Cardiomyopathy - A group of disorders of the heart muscle in which the walls of the ventricles become stiff, but not necessarily thickened, and resist normal filling with blood between heartbeats.

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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